New year, new me, right? Or at least that’s what we tend to repeat ourselves every last week of December. We get excited about the upcoming year, reflect on what we want to improve, and come up with a few New Year’s resolutions to focus on for the next twelve months.
But only a fraction of the people who make New Year’s resolutions end up sticking to them in the long run. Why? Well, because, despite being part of our nature to set goals at the start of something new, it’s also part of us to experience difficulties breaking old established habits, focusing on a specific desired outcome, and getting distracted or demotivated along the way. It’s normal for these resolutions to flunk after a couple of months or weeks even, and it’s because there can be a toxic culture around them. Goal setting for the new year can trigger an all or nothing mentality that turns out inflicting more pressure than motivation on those involved.
Then how to avoid the frustration related to New Year’s resolutions and be smarter about them?
The first step is to be realistic and honest with yourself.
Think about what you would want to improve on in the upcoming year and whether you will be able to achieve those goals or not. Reflect on your potential New Year’s resolutions instead of setting arbitrary and unrealistic goals just because everyone else is doing so. You are much better off doing what’s going to work for you than feeling pressured in the search for external validation. If the motivation doesn’t come from within you, then you’re probably going to struggle to sustain those changes in the long run.
Secondly, don’t try to bite off more than you can chew.
Don’t make a dozen New Year’s resolutions only to end up with zero of them still up and running by the time you reach February. Do yourself a favour and select up to five resolutions you are 100% sure you can give your best to. If you have more solutions than you can focus on, you might not even have the time to begin working in a couple of them. It’s better to take things slow and realistically and maybe add new goals for the year later in the game – the new year is not the only time you can commit to making sustainable changes. Quality over quantity, folks, that’s the key when it comes to this matter.
Be specific about what you want to achieve.
It’s smarter to be specific so you can hold yourself accountable. If your goal is to start meditating more, then commit to a certain number of meditations per week. The same goes for things like exercising, journaling or cooking your own meals. If you want to lose or gain some weight, then try to have an initial, achievable and sustainable target weight you can work your way towards. Having a clear idea of what exactly your New Year’s resolution encompasses will help you make steady progress regarding that goal and easily track your achievements.
Try to apply the SMART method to review every goal you set.
Before you fully commit to a New Year’s resolution, apply the SMART method to it to see if you’re on the path to success. SMART is an acronym that stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Timely. It’s widely used in the project management realm to help businesses determine which goals to pursue. It’ll help you identify what components are necessary for your resolutions and navigate the next steps.
Plan, plan, plan.
Grab a notebook, write your game plan, stick to it. New Year’s resolutions, if you want them to stick in the long run, are all about consistency. And consistency comes with extensive planning and detail, that’s the truth. You can’t expect things to work if you don’t put any thought into it or rush them out the door on New Year’s Eve. Take the last days of 2020 to think about your goals for 2021, plan how exactly you’re going to achieve them, and follow that plan until you get right where you want to be.
Set yourself up for success.
Tweak your surroundings so they work with you, not against you. Make changes around your place, clear out anything that’s not aligning with your goals anymore, make space for the things that will help you fulfill your New Year’s resolutions. If you want to workout, maybe treat yourself to a new pair of sneakers. If you want to start eating plant-based, get a few cooking books or delicious snacks to have you covered. Change comes with dedication, so you have to be assertive about it and get right to the point.
Ditch the all or nothing mentality.
Small, attainable resolutions are better than grandiloquent ones that are forgotten by the time January passes by. It’s preferable to have a healthier mindset about New Year’s resolutions and think of it as an opportunity to improve, not a competition or some kind of stressful test. Don’t get discouraged if it takes longer than you anticipated to get where you want to be. Tiny results are still results, little progress is still progress.
Remember that your goals are way more than a yearly event.
New Year’s resolutions are great because they can encourage people to take the first steps towards their goals, but that push can fade away after a couple of months. Whenever you feel your motivation starting to disappear on you, remind yourself why you committed to that resolution in the first place. Chances are you’ll resolve to keep making the effort if that change is truly one of a positive impact in your life.