How to Make Good Your New Year’s Resolutions
It’s the perennial angst of how to take our New Year’s resolutions seriously and stick to them. So easy to make but so hard to keep. Our best intentions leave us scratching our heads pondering why these goals have slipped through our fingers …on repeat ad infinitum. You aren’t alone, it’s a common affliction. Most resolutions have failed by mid-March. So, why does it happen? Your targets are too small and feel insignificant, so why bother? Your dreams are too big, and goals feel impossible to reach? Sounds like excuses to me. Stop feeling sorry for yourself now the champagne corks have stopped popping and get a grip. Set genuine goals and invest the time and energy in achieving them. If your will is wavering, here are a few ideas to keep you motivated.
Tips to make you stick with your resolutions and achieve those goals.
You need a plan. It’s not enough to list resolutions; they’re way too easy to forget about. Here are some suggestions to fool-proof your goals.
1) Use apps/websites that make you pay if you don’t keep your resolutions. For example, the websites SticK.com or Beeminder.com ask you to nominate an amount of cash that you'll have to give over to a charity if you don't achieve a stated goal. You just need to provide a referee and set the wager.
2) For a less drastic approach, ask a friend to make a bet with you that you’ll keep your New Year’s resolutions, or you’ll owe them something of value.
3) To take some personal responsibility for reaching your goals, plan a realistic pathway including little steps towards achieving each goal. This will make big goals more manageable to reach. Create a cue-based plan by scheduling in dates when each step should be completed to keep you on track or use a resolution journal. Reward yourself with small treats when these are met.
4) Limit your resolutions…one significant one is enough. Don’t overburden yourself by trying to satisfy an exhaustive list of goals, thereby setting yourself up to fail.
5) Use a different goal each year. Don’t keep trying to reach a goal that you’ve already failed at. Who wouldn’t be disheartened by that? That’s not to say you should never aim for that goal again. We all know anything worth achieving is difficult to nail on the first go, it takes time. Give yourself breathing space and try a different approach next time.
6) Take steps to affect positive changes in your external environment to assist you getting to your goals e.g., if your goal is to deal with stress better, then put out your yoga mat and clothes, or running shoes the night before to make it easy for you to stick to your ‘healthier, less stressed you’ plan. Positive visual stimuli will help you remember and focus on the goal.
7) Influence your internal environment by being consistent with your good new habits. Consistency will make you feel better mentally and physically. You’ll feel in control steadily moving towards your ultimate goal. Positive feedback loops will propel you in the right direction.
8) Avoid radical actions. Sudden change can make you feel overwhelmed, catapulting you back to your comfort zone. Slow and steady tends to win the race creating sustainable, beneficial long-term habits.
9) Set concrete goals, such as, quantifying your goal, not ‘I want to be thinner’, how much do you need to lose e.g., 5kg? 10? Go down a dress size?
10) Make the process fun e.g., it’s easier to stay on track if you have someone you like to partner you on your journey such as a workout buddy or sharing your progress with someone who’s also trying to reach a similar goal. This will help you both with motivation…and avoid the shame you will feel if you have to admit sliding off the path or quitting.
11) Give yourself some wiggle room in case of unexpected disruptions or emergencies e.g., give yourself one or two get-out-of-gaol-free cards per week. It’s human to err. We all make missteps so let yourself get over these and start afresh the next day rather than giving up at the first hurdle. What does it matter if you take an extra day, week or month to get to your goal?