New Year’s Resolutions-How to keep them past January
By Mary Beth Gibson
The New Year. It’s like life’s reset button. The hectic pace at the end of the year finally eases up, and the month of January seems downright quiet compared to December. Whether you believe in the concept of a “resolution” for the New Year or not, more than likely you’ve thought about a few things you’d like to do differently this year. At the very least you have some hopes and goals for the year. Now that we’re a month into the year a significant number of us have already slipped up or even given up our goals entirely. It doesn’t have to be that way! Here are 9 Ways to Achieve Your New Year’s Resolution.
Where Does Your Resolution Come From?
Did you make your resolution because you felt guilty or panicked? Was it a spur-of-the-moment, knee-jerk, gut-based reaction to the numbers on the scale or in your bank account? While getting out of debt or becoming healthier are wonderful goals, evaluate whether or not they are the right focus for you this next year. How is your relationship with your spouse or your children? Are you wasting hours of your life in front of the TV or on Facebook? Is losing 20 pounds really the most important change you can make right now?
Choose ONE Resolution!
We often end the year thinking about all the ways we could have been better or tried harder or produced more, but is it really possible to change it all in one year? Success depends upon the energy and focus you can bring to a project. If your focus is split between multiple goals, then you might improve a bit across the board, but you won’t see a drastic change in any of those areas. Carefully assess your life. Imagine your ideal life/self. What is the one aspect that you can take charge of, impact for the better, and find joy in? Make that your one resolution.
Accept That You Must Make a Permanent Change
We often need to make resolutions because something in our lives is suffering or out of place. Those things often get that way because we have bad habits or patterns of behavior that need to shift. Those patterns of behavior can’t just shift for one month to fix the problem. Realize and accept that your normal self will have to be different than it was in 2016.
Evaluate Your Habits First
New Year’s resolutions are often quite ambitious. If your goal is to get out of debt in 2017 you’ll need to change a lot more than the amount of money you pay on your loans. Carefully assess all of your habits when it comes to the area in question. How do you budget? How do you spend money? How do you plan to save money? Do you impulse buy? Do you pay for products/services that are non-essential? How can you change your daily lifestyle in small ways to help your resolution? Never overlook the small habits throughout your day that you can shift. This often adds up to big changes in the end.
Set SMART Goals
It goes without saying that New Year’s Resolutions are all about setting goals, but if you only have one goal whose deadline is December 31 then you’re setting yourself up for failure. Set small, daily/weekly goals for yourself that slowly guide you to your ultimate goal. Focus first on shifting bad habits and creating new, healthy habits. Use the acronym SMART to help you create your goals. Your goal for the week should be S (specific), M (measurable—or meaningful if your goal is relationship-based), A (attainable), R (relevant), and T (time-based). Know exactly what you want to achieve and know exactly how you can measure it. Choose a daily/weekly goal that will stretch you, but that you know you can achieve with some work. Your goal needs to be relevant, so even though it’s fun to buy a juicer and pin juice recipes, have you done any work to shift a habit to become healthier? And, of course, your goal needs to be time-based. Tell yourself that you will achieve your daily/weekly goal by Saturday or 10:00 p.m. or lunchtime. Give yourself a deadline.
Make Your Resolution a Priority—and Plan Accordingly
Setting goals and shifting habits will naturally change your old routine, and things will always come up that challenge your ability to reach your goals. People will give you treats. A friend will show up unexpectedly and invite you out to eat. You will have to work late sometimes and miss family dinner. Decide NOW what your strategy will be when these things come up. Build trade-offs into your habits: give up your daily Starbucks run and make your own coffee so you can accept an impromptu dinner invitation once a week (bonus: no invitations means an extra $35 saved for the week).
Do Some Research and Consult an Expert
Somewhere out there exist people who have already achieved your resolution. If they have written articles or books about how they achieved their goals look them up. Read their websites. Bookmark their checklists. Talk to the people in your life who have already mastered the thing you’re attempting. Really listen to their advice, and ask yourself how their habits and routines could be adapted to fit your life.
Get Accountability—and Honor It!
You are more likely to stick to a goal if someone is going to ask you about it. You are even more likely to see it through if someone else is going to do it alongside you. And if you are in this together, don’t forget to keep your partner(s) accountable, too! Holding another person accountable will also encourage you to work hard at your own goals because nothing is more embarrassing than grilling someone about what they accomplished this week when you have to admit that you did nothing.
One Slip-Up Does Not Ruin the Entire Day/Week/Month/Year
No one can perfectly achieve every goal every day. Sometimes life just shows up. Sometimes your child is teething his molars and you were up until 3:00 a.m., and your 6:00 a.m. energizing yoga just isn’t going to happen. It’s OK. The great thing about a permanent and consistent shift in your habits and life is the freedom to indulge from time to time. Give yourself a day off from time to time, and don’t feel guilty about it!
Mary Beth Gibson graduated from Wichita State University in 2007 with a BA in Creative Writing and blogs at Bright Sycamore. She enjoys most things natural, but with a healthy dose of practicality and affordability. You can most likely find her wearing her toddler around Target as she hunts for great deals in the dollar bins. She lives in Kansas with her husband and 1-year old son.
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