You have the best of intentions to follow through with your New Year’s resolutions. You have the drive and the passion to finally kick that habit, lose that weight, or learn something new. But as the weeks grind on, we tend to lose sight of the resolutions that we make on New Year’s and sink back into our same old habits. What gives?
Here are some tips for making sure that you not only keep but actually surpass your New Year’s resolutions and expectations this year.
1. Set Realistic Goals
This isn’t to say that you shouldn’t push yourself – you should – but be reasonable with what you can do. If you work full time and have kids, a goal of hitting the gym 3 hours a day is probably going to be a bust. A better goal may be going to the gym 3 times a week for 1 hour.
2. One Goal At A Time
You may feel inspired today, but tomorrow keeping those 3 or 4 goals that you made yesterday may not be so easy. Focus on one goal at a time and don’t move on to the next until you’ve established a firm path to achieving that first goal (i.e. if you’re paying down debt, make sure you’re “x” amount of the way there before taking on quitting smoking).
3. Add the “How” and the “Why” to the “What”
You want to lose 50 pounds over the next year. This is the “what.” But the problem with focusing on just the “what” is that it often leaves people feeling defeated and unmotivated. By envisioning and focusing on the “how” and the “why” (i.e. “I see myself working out 3 times a week for 1 hour a session, attending water aerobics and hot yoga classes, and eating healthy low-calorie foods so I will live a longer and happier life”) you’re painting yourself a realistic and inspiring picture of you reaching that goal.
4. Keep a Diary
Write down your resolutions and how you plan to achieve them. Nothing else will remind you to stay on track better than keeping a journal of your progress and reminding yourself of the goals you made (you may also want to keep a photo diary to help you track your progress).
5. Be Selfish with your Time
All too often we become too wrapped up in the daily grind to really focus on ourselves. Regardless of your current lifestyle, make sure that you set apart blocks of time necessary for you to achieve your goal (i.e. set aside 3 hour blocks 4 times a week to write your future New York Times best seller).
Don’t look at achieving your goals as just another chore to add to your list. If you’re feeling stressed out or overwhelmed, take a few minutes to just stop and breathe. Step outside, go for a walk, practice deep breathing or meditate.
7. Rally the Troops
Getting a partner or a group of people all together on one resolution helps encourage everyone in the group to keep going and achieve the goals. If no one shares your goal, then try recruiting a friend or family member to hold you accountable so he or she can keep you on track when you may be feeling less than inspired.
8. Distract Yourself
If 2:00 pm is when you’re most likely to hit the vending machine for a salty diet-breaking treat, or if you like to have a smoke first thing in the morning, arm yourself with distractions that will keep you on track with your goal. Plan a walk around the block for your 2 o’clock break or grab the dog for an early morning jog to distract your craving.
9. Create a Reward System
Setting up achievement milestones means setting up rewards. Come up with ways you can give yourself a pat on the back to keep you going when things get tough.
10. Mistakes are not the End
So what if you had that donut during coffee at work, or decided to sleep in rather than go for a run. Mistakes can happen, but this doesn’t mean that your goal is a complete bust. When you set your goals, acknowledge that nobody’s perfect, that there may be temporary set backs, but that you have the strength to get right back on that goal and move forward.
The important thing to keep in mind is that resolutions aren’t meant to be drudgery. Ultimately they are lifestyle changes. Rather than focus on the resolution itself, think it this way. After a year of not smoking, a year of hitting the gym instead of coming home and plopping on the couch or eating more leafy greens instead of mayonnaise-heavy potato salad, you will be slimmer, healthier and much, much happier.