Simple tips to make your New Year’s resolutions stick
Sick of making the same New Year’s resolutions every year and getting off to a great start only to have them dwindle away by mid-February? You’re not alone.
Whether your resolution is to lose weight, eat healthier, learn a new language or stockpile some savings, recent research suggested that just 9.2% of people studied felt like they successfully achieved their New Year’s resolutions in 2017.
Here are some tips to help make your resolutions stick this year.
Think them through
You might have heard of the acronym SMART that’s often used for goal setting. Checking that you’ve thought through these qualities for each of your resolutions will make them more robust. This means you haven’t just thought about the big exciting reward at the end, you’ve thought through the habits and realities of how to get you there.
- SPECIFIC – Be as specific as possible. Generalised goals are difficult to achieve. For example, instead of ‘I want to be fitter’, what does that look or feel like to you? More specific options might be ‘I want to run 5km’, ‘I want to do 10 push ups’, or ‘I want to walk up the stairs at home without puffing’.
- MEASURABLE – How are you going to measure your results? If it’s not measurable it’s going to be difficult to tell if you’re on track – or how to tell when you’ve even achieved your goal for that matter.
- ACHIEVABLE – At the most basic level is this a resolution you can achieve? You might want six-pack abs, however, some of us literally can’t achieve them due to genetics. Buying a Ferrari sounds cool, but if your income/discretionary income over the course of the year won’t allow for it, you might need to make it a long term goal and aim to increase your savings by ‘x’ amount in the shorter term instead. Assess your goals and determine whether they need revising.
- REALISTIC – This leads on from the last point, is your resolution realistic? Can you fit in the gym sessions required to achieve your goal? Is the meal plan you want to do revising your current way of eating or overhauling everything about the way you eat? Are you planning to set aside more money each week for your savings than is reasonable to be able to still pay your rent and amenities etc?
- TIME-BASED – Give yourself an ‘end’ date to reassess things. Deadlines may seem scary, but they give us a point to aim for.
You might want to use a planner to schedule ahead and/or tracker to oversee your progress so you can really nut out the details. If you have health, fitness or wellbeing goals, I have a DIY kit of planning sheets for sale in the NZ Real Health shop and also a free basic planner that could help.
The more you think your resolutions through, plan ahead and keep an eye on how you’re doing, the more likely it is that they will stick in the long term. This may seem like a lot of effort but it’s also the best way to succeed and make sure you’re not making these same goals in a year’s time.
Include others: Accountability for your actions
If we keep our goals to ourselves it’s easier for them to conveniently ‘disappear’ if things get too hard or we go through a rough patch that sidetracks our attention. Opening up our New Year’s resolutions to others can help keep us motivated and may add that extra element of support, advice or reaffirmation of commitment if we lose track.
You might like to do this through a friend, family member or work colleague, a social media forum with other people who have similar goals, or a professional (such as a personal trainer, nutritionist, business mentor or life coach).
Online media has added a new element to this where some people simply post diary-like entries about their journey, progress, successes and failures on a Facebook page, Instagram account or blog.
KISS (Keep It Simple Stupid/Silly)
Rather than a big list of resolutions, try to pick one or two key ones that you want to work on. Remember you need to be realistic with the time and energy that you have to put into them, so scattering yourself across 10 goals will make life more difficult and likely lead to resolution failure.
Once you have your key goals, break them down as small as possible. Big goals are achieved through monthly, weekly, daily and hourly habits so these are the best place to emphasise your focus. For example, if you want to lose weight, what’s a small, easily achievable goal you can do each day to help you progress towards it?
An hour at the gym every day may be unrealistic, but a 20-minute brisk walk around the block in your lunch break with a gym workout several days a week might be simple. Plan for what’s going to be easiest.
Revise when needed
Sometimes we get a bit carried away with the idea of a big goal, only to find our plan just isn’t working or the goal is too big or unattainable. It’s important for you to be able to go back to the drawing board, identify what needs changing and make modifications. This flexibility for adjustment is one of the keys to whether you will fail or succeed, so it’s a good idea to wrap your head around it! All too often we get caught up in the idea of perfectionism – if we can’t do it 100% right then we may as well give up. Remember that any progress or success – no matter how small – is better than no progress or going backwards.
If you ‘fall off the bandwagon’, or go through a period where things aren’t working out (this typically happens in times of stress, holidays, big life events, or sickness), learn from the experience, dust yourself off and get back on track as soon as you can. A few one-off slip ups likely won’t make a difference in the grand scheme of things, but it will if you make them a habit.
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