New Year’s resolutions tend to get a bad rap for being counterproductive and doomed to failure. However, goal setting is an important factor of success in our personal and professional lives. There is nothing wrong with using the excitement of the new year to inspire change and growth. If you feel like making a resolution, you should go for it! With this guide on how to stick to your New Year’s resolutions, you might be one of the few that can look back at the end of the year and say you did it!
1. Pick the right resolution
This is perhaps the most important tip of all. Your resolution should be attainable and realistic. Otherwise, you are just setting yourself up for failure. Think about how long it would take to achieve your goal. If you can actually achieve it in a year, then perfect go for it! Some resolutions are better off split in half and made into a part two the following year. For example, “I will start a blog and reach 10,000 page views a month”. That’s a LOT for one year and for most people, not attainable.
Also, does your resolution leave no room for failure? “I will never ever eat junk food” is an example of a resolution that I made one year that was just destined to fail because you cannot be perfect all the time. Allowing some wiggle room would’ve helped me to be more successful and not throw in the towel after one slip up.
2. Increase it slowly as you make progress
After picking the right resolution, this is the most important trick. For example if your goal is to get fit, you can’t jump from not working out EVER to working out EVERY day. Increase your goals slowly
as you’re making progress and you will ensure that you will stay successful. For example, start off working out only 2 times per week. As you are consistent with that, increase to 3 times and so on. Then you can add in more goals, such as also drinking more water. By increasing slowly you will make it a habit, something that you do every day without even having to think about, rather than a drastic
lifestyle change which you will most likely crash and burn. If you ever find that you are not able to stick to your goals, you may have to reduce the level of effort and increase it again once you’ve reached consistency.
3. Make a list of why you want it
New Year’s day is probably the highest point of motivation that you will have. After that you might experience some peaks and valleys as your motivation increases and declines. For days that you need an extra boost, write down a list of all the reasons why you want to accomplish your New Year’s resolution. These reasons can be serious or silly, whatever the reasons are that you *want* this. Anytime you feel your motivation declining, read your list and try to pump yourself back up to the level of motivation you had on New Year’s Day.
4. Journal your progress
Having something concrete to show for your progress will help keep you motivated. Try keeping a journal or a blog about your daily efforts. A blog would be best because if you are not sharing your journal with anyone you might not feel accountable for staying on track with it. At the end of the year you can look back at everything that you accomplished throughout the year.
5. Visualize it
The road to success can be long and hard. There are many sacrifices to give up until you get the ultimate prize. Unfortunately, when the road is not enjoyable it can be hard to keep up motivation. Every time you find yourself tempted to quit, imagine the finish line. Really visualize how it will feel and what your life will be like. If you are able to visualize it well enough, the sacrifices that you are making right now might feel worth it!
6. Make it easy
Sometimes we don’t need to pump ourselves up and try to get ourselves motivated, we just need to change some things in our environment to make it EASY to do what we want to do. For example, if you want to workout after work but you are just exhausted once you get home, don’t go through the whole routine of trying to pump yourself up. Instead, don’t go home! Keep your gym bag with you and make sure you stop at the gym before you go home. Even if your workout isn’t perfect, at least you will keep making progress towards your goals. Here’s another example. If your goal is to floss daily, put your floss on top of your toothpaste. If brushing your teeth is already part of your routine, you’ll be reminded to floss every time you brush.
7. Establish a reward system
To keep yourself going and motivated, you need to reward your positive behavior. Figure out some sort of reward system that works for you. It might be stringing X’s together on a calendar and getting bigger rewards the longer the chain gets or getting a pre-set weekly reward for reaching your goals all week. Remember that what works best are immediate rewards: that’s why if your reward is delayed I suggest keeping a log of your progress.
Also, try to make the activity itself enjoyable. Find pleasure in whatever it is you’re doing. Talk to yourself positively about it. Give yourself kudos for all the hard work your doing. It might feel cheesy at first, but try different things until you find what works for you. If you aren’t maintaining your resolution, the reward you picked isn’t as rewarding as the “bad” or alternate habit.
Finally, don’t forget to reward your efforts! If you slip up, don’t beat yourself up about it. Instead, think about all the progress you’ve made and how far you’ve come. You don’t want to make working on your resolution something that you dread. You want to make it something positive and that you like because it is helping to benefit your life. The more pride you feel in your success the easier it will be for you to stick to your resolutions and goals in the future.
8. Practice tough love
If you find that the rewards are not enough to keep you motivated and sticking to your resolution, you might have to practice some tough love with yourself. Pick a negative consequence if you do not meet your weekly goals. A perfect one is having to give away a pre-established amount of money, especially to a charity you hate. It’ll be really hard not to stick to your goals if that’s the alternative!
Did you make a New Year’s resolution this year?
What are some strategies that help you stick to your resolution?