December 27, 2017

New Year’s Goal to Lose Weight? Why a Focus is Better than a Resolution

By Marit Weikel
Behavioral Health Specialist

Ah, the end of the year. Time for a brand new calendar and a reinvented life. But most of us who make New Year’s resolutions do not keep our resolutions past February. Our resolutions fail because we set too many, we were too vague, or the resolutions were unrealistic to begin with.

As a therapist and health coach, I have spent over 10 years discussing behavior change and goal setting with my patients and clients. I’ve talked at length about setting SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, time-bound) goals and clarifying values. I emphasize loosening the grip on the outcome goal and instead focusing on the process. Renowned leadership coach and author Peter Bregman has described this as concentrating on an area of focus rather than setting a goal.

The goal can describe the end result, but the focus describes how you are going to spend your time to achieve it. In other words, a goal points to the future you want to reach, and a focus keeps you connected to the behaviors and choices of the present. Over-emphasis on an outcome can drive behaviors that are too narrow and lead to cheating, corrosive competition and guilt.

Concentrating on an area of focus helps tap into intrinsic motivation. This means you are engaged in making a change because it is interesting and satisfying to you, not to avoid punishment, get a reward, earn praise, or avoid feeling guilty. You are making this change because you want to, not because you’re feeling pressured or obligated. You could ask yourself, “If there were not pressure to change, would I still want to?”

Find Your Why

What is your “why?” Clarify why this change important to you. The “why” is the energy force that will help overcome inertia and resolve ambivalence.

How, What, Where, When

What is your area of focus? Is it exercise? Food choices? Stress management? How will you address this area of focus daily? This may require education and skill building that can be learned or developed. Schedule it. It will get done if you know the “what,” “where” and “when.”

Enlist Support

Weight loss is in the Top 3 of New Year’s resolutions. If you want to reach a healthier weight, Mission Weight Management has a program for you. In addition to the surgical and non-surgical programs, there is now a Medical FLEX program designed to provide foundational education in the form of webinars and printed material, as well as medical recommendations, access to multi-disciplinary weight management experts, and support with your healthy lifestyle journey.


Marit Weikel, MA, LPC, is a Behavioral Health Specialist with Mission Weight Management.

To learn more about the Medical FLEX program, visit missionweight.org or call (828) 213-4100.

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