We all know the saying, “new year, new you,” but that might be a bit excessive. If you’re wanting to practice the age-old tradition of making a New Year’s resolution, good on you! But don’t think of it as changing your whole identity. Think of it as merely giving yourself an upgrade.
It’s easy to think of all the things you would like to change about yourself, but it’s quite a different story when it comes to following through. The daunting task of actually changing a habit, quality, or lifestyle can be a smart idea and sounds like a thrilling endeavour . . . at first at least.
Studies suggest around 80 percent of New Year’s resolutions get abandoned by mid-February; so if in the past, you have vowed to change something about yourself for the new year and, well, failed, you are far from alone.
So now the million-dollar question comes into play: How on earth can you go through with your New Year’s resolution?
The truth of the matter is, most people set themselves up to fail without even realizing it. When making a resolution, most people do it on a whim and are too vague about what their resolution actually is and entails. Saying “this year, I’m going to eat healthier,” or “this year, I’m going to try/learn new things” are great ideas and sound pretty straight forward. However, aimlessly and quickly working these habits into your life without the details or a plan, you’ll find yourself “failing” your New Year’s resolution.
One of the most popular resolutions is losing weight and getting into better shape, which is, of course, a very healthy and smart resolution to set. But, like we said up above, it is too vague.
From the Verywell Mind, “For example, you might commit to losing 10 pounds, making daily to-do lists, or running a mini-marathon. Be sure to make your goal realistic rather than drastic. Choosing a concrete, achievable goal also allows you to plan exactly how you are going to accomplish (and stick to) your goal over the course of the year.”
Select One Realistic Goal
Like we said up above, don’t change your whole personality; give yourself a minor upgrade this upcoming year. With the New Year just around the corner, brings a sense of the urgent need to be “better” than the previous year. But that doesn’t happen overnight, nor will it happen if you set the bar too high or pick too many resolutions.
Selecting one realistic goal to put your focus on, instead of picking multiple and spreading yourself too thin, is a good rule of thumb. Taking on too much can be daunting and overwhelming, leading you to drop the idea of continuing your resolution quickly.
Make your Goal SMART
The SMART acronym is a tool that can help you guide your goal setting. The meaning, Specific, Measurable, Achievable (or Attainable), Relevant (or Realistic), Time-Bound (or Time-based).
SMART’s goal is to help you clarify your ideas, focus your efforts, use your time and resources productively, and increase your chances of achieving what you want in life. Using this tool, you will of a whole layout of your goal and know how to achieve it.
For a more in-depth definition and the workings of SMART, visit MindTools’ website.
Planning, Planning, Planning
Like most things in life, planning is everything! Okay, you know what your goal is, you’ve determined that it is realistic, and you know what SMART goals are; now it’s time to plan how you will reach your goal.
Whatever your resolution is, sit down and write out your plan of action. Include how you will change your habit, behaviour, or lifestyle, the steps involved, why you want to do it, and ways you can keep yourself on track. You can also include what you will do when faced with obstacles and challenges and what they might be. Write down what your strategies are when things get tough.
Just like selecting a realistic goal, you have to plan out realistic steps. For example, if your goal is to eat healthier, instead of waking up on January 1 and throwing out all the unhealthy food, start small. Replace some of your favourite sweet treats with a healthy, nutritious option. Then, move onto your next step that could be adding more vegetables to your diet, reducing portion size, or cutting back on fried food or stopping at the drive-thru.
Remember, you’re in charge of picking, planning, and executing your goal. You’re the boss. When you’re in the planning stage and thinking about what the steps are, think about what steps and timeframe work for you.
While small steps take time, you’ll find that when you plan out manageable, achievable steps, that your New Year’s resolution doesn’t seem as big and scary. In the long haul, this slow start and small incremental changes will make it easier to stick to your new habit and lifestyle. Keep in mind the old saying “slow and steady wins the race.”
There is no denying it, we humans need support. Informing your friends and family on your new journey and gathering in on their support will keep you motivated and accountable.
If you can find somebody who is like-minded and shares the same goal as you, even better! The buddy system makes your experience a lot more fun and even easier if you’re in with somebody else.
Don’t Beat Yourself Up
Another human nature are mistakes. We won’t lie to you. Mishaps will happen. But don’t beat yourself up about it!
If you find that you feel confident about your goal, you’re making progress, and following the steps and then start backsliding, just be patient. Keep in mind that just because you took a step backwards doesn’t mean you failed. Reaching your goal may take longer, but as long as you get back on the horse, you’ll reach your goal. And that’s the important part!
Resources and More Information
4 Ways to Reach (and Maintain) New Year’s Resolutions – Mayo Clinic
Need Motivation to Tackle your New Year’s Resolutions – Mayo Clinic
10 Great Tips for Keeping Your Resolutions This Year – VeryWell Mind
How to Keep Your New Year’s Resolutions and Make Them Stick – MyMoneyCoach