At the end of the year, its seems like the same things always happen: the holidays rush by in a blaze of glorious culinary treats, relaxing time off, and boozy parties. Then January 1st rolls around and everyone realizes the toll that this kind of lifestyle takes on their bodies. So goals are made, rules are established, and everyone’s sharing their resolutions on social media. It can be such an exciting time, with all the fresh beginnings and promises to yourself.
But then, oh, maybe three weeks down the line, that feeling’s gone. Reality has set back in and you’ve realized that you don’t quite have the time to run a mile every day, finish a new book each week, and learn to play the cello. At times like those, it can seem like New Year’s resolutions are built to fail.
Never fear, though! You guessed it: we have some simple suggestions and tips that can help you make resolutions that you’ll actually keep up throughout the year. Read on to find out what you can do to make sure your resolutions stick this year.
The easiest way to make a resolution that’ll stick? Ease into things with baby steps. If your resolution is to eat healthier, for example, start by substituting one ingredient in one meal every day — like almond milk in your morning coffee instead of heavy cream. Then, as you get used to this small change, make another and another and build on the goal as time goes by.
This helps by not overwhelming you with responsibility straight out of the gate. So often, we fail at big goals because there’s so much that needs to change to make them a reality. If you can accept that all the things you want might not happen at once, you’re more likely to create a habit that sticks.
Create a Support Network
No one does their best when they feel all alone in something they’re working to achieve. Opening up to your friends, family, and coworkers and asking for their help with your goals will make it easier to accomplish. A buddy with the same resolution as you is even better! You can work together to keep each other accountable for the things you want to achieve. And fitting in that daily workout or instrumental jam session is even more fun when you’re doing it with someone you like to spend time with.
This doesn’t just apply to the people around you, though — your environment has a huge effect on your goal-achieving success. Filling your pantry with healthy snacks and getting rid of any processed food is a great way to make sure you start eating healthier. You know the old saying — out of sight, out of mind!
Have a Detailed Plan
There’s just something so satisfying about crossing something off a to-do list, right? When we write down all our goals, what we need to do to accomplish them, and our personal deadlines for them, we’re more likely to succeed. Maybe it’s because this helps us stay mentally organized, maybe it’s that satisfying to-do list feeling. A lot of what makes a resolution successful is accountability, and putting your plan onto paper gives it a lot more weight.
Make sure that you keep track of your journey along the way, too. Do this however you want to — a journal, a couple of lines written on a calendar, an Excel spreadsheet. The important thing is that you’re able to check back in periodically and notice that changes you’ve been implementing and how they’re impacting your life. If you see things are going well, you’ll want to keep doing what you’ve been doing!
Something that many people overlook is how to deal with problems that may arise while your pursue your goals. Coming up with a plan for how to deal with slip-ups helps make sure that you don’t derail entirely when something comes up. So if you hit writer’s block midway through one of the chapters of the novel you’re finally starting, you’ll be prepared and won’t completely abandon your manuscript. Problems and slip-ups are a fact of life, and if you can deal with them, you can deal with anything.
It seems like it’d be obvious, but make sure that the resolutions you make are ones that you want in your life. We all know how it feels to do something we aren’t really into, just because someone else wants us to. Make sure you’re making changes for the right reasons — not just because you feel pressured to by friends or social media. If it’s not something you actually want in your life, it won’t stick.
In addition, you’re more likely to achieve a goal if you’re honest with yourself about what you can and can’t do. You won’t be able to learn to fluently speak Spanish in a single month — sorry, no one can do that. You can, however, commit to something like practicing with Duolingo for a few minutes every day.
Try Waking Up Earlier
If you’re struggling to fit elements of a new routine into your day, writer Gretchen Rubin suggests setting your alarm clock for earlier than usual. If you’re on a regular 9 to 5 kind of schedule, you probably find yourself tired and drained after work. The evening serves as a way for you to decompress, relax, and do the things that are pleasant to you. No one wants to give up that sacred space to do something that feels like a task or chore.
That’s why waking up even just half an hour earlier than normal could be your saving grace. Use this time to tidy your house or go for that jog you’ve been promising yourself. This way, the important task you’ve assigned yourself still gets done, without cutting into your special relaxation time. Of course, not everyone is a morning person, but give it a try — you might surprise yourself.
Keep it Positive
Think about it — are you more likely to do things that make you feel miserable, or ones that make you happy? It’s critical to think of your resolution as something you’re doing to make your life better, not to punish yourself. If you’re trying to lose weight, for example, think about positive effects you’ll gain, like not getting winded when you climb the stairs. Focusing on the negatives just puts you in a bad head space that doesn’t help with achieving your goals.
If you’re having trouble with keeping up a positive mentality, don’t forget to look back on the progress you’ve made since starting your goal. Celebrating what you’ve accomplished so far is a great way to drum up motivation for the road ahead. Don’t be afraid to toot your own horn — when you’ve worked hard for something, you deserve plenty of positive attention!