When it comes to New Year’s resolutions, many people ignore the adage that less is more, and resolve to get more active, lose weight, and be happier. While these are admirable goals, what people don’t realize when they set themselves these simple resolutions for the new year is that actually setting down tangible goals will always be more useful than simplistic statements that would be more at home in an ad for a gym or a new weight-loss beverage.
Today, we’ll be talking about ways to set yourself New Year’s resolutions that you’ll actually keep, and we’ve got some tried-and-tested tips to help make it happen.
1. Make them personal
It can be really tempting to jump on a bandwagon when you’re setting New Year’s resolutions for yourself. There are some that appear on lists year after year; lose weight, eat healthier, and make more friends are just some of the most obvious choices. However, the less personal your resolutions are to your life, the less you’ll actually care about accomplishing them.
This year, take some time to come up with goals that you actually want to achieve. Think about where you want to be a year from now, and set yourself goals that will help you achieve that vision.
2. Make them specific
Another way to help yourself make New Year’s resolutions that you’ll actually keep is by making them as specific as possible.
“Lose weight” is a good goal if that’s what you want to do, but once you’ve got it down on paper, it can be extremely difficult to take the next step. If you want to lose weight, it’s better to set yourself a more reasonable goal. Estimate the number of pounds, or inches that you want to lose, and put that down on paper instead. If you want to eat healthier, think about the kinds of things that you eat now, and be more specific with what you would like to be eating in the future.
By making your goal specific to your life, it’s much more likely that you’ll be able to confidently take the next steps towards achieving it.
3. Set a deadline
A one-year deadline is what most people are thinking of when they make New Year’s resolutions — probably because they don’t want to have to think about goals again for a year.
You’re much more likely to succeed in achieving the goals that you set for yourself if you set a deadline. If you’re not sure how long your goal will take to achieve, work on a timeline instead. Set yourself monthly or even quarterly goals, so you can check in a few times a year and see how you’re progressing.
4. Find an accountability partner
Another way to set yourself up for New Year’s resolution success is to keep yourself accountable. Don’t just write your goal down in your journal or on a piece of paper and hide it away.
If you really want to achieve your goal, start telling everyone about it. Put it on Facebook, and encourage people to talk to you about it. Ask your friends and family to help you stay on track by gently calling you out if you’re doing things that are contrary to your goal. The more that you actively discuss it, the more it becomes a reality of your life rather than a self-improvement fantasy.
5. Learn how to avoid procrastinating
For many people, procrastination is the only thing standing between them and achieving their goals. Changing your life takes work, and it’s often uncomfortable to do new things rather than just staying in the same old routine day in and day out.
Often, people err on the side of comfort, rather than opportunity, and you’ll have to change that if you want to make any kind of lasting improvement in your life. Start small, reward yourself every time that you make a positive change like working out, eating a healthier meal, or engaging in a new social situation. Soon, you’ll be doing new and exciting activities more than your comfortable favorites.
6. Be willing to rethink your schedule and routine
Another hurdle that you’ll have to jump over if you really want to achieve your New Year’s resolution is potentially shaking up your schedule.
Lots of people thrive on routine, and while that’s not a bad thing, it becomes hard to make positive changes in your life if you can’t adjust to a new routine. If you’re used to the same dinner at the same time every single day, examine why that is. Sometimes just acknowledging it helps.
7. Enlist some professional support
Another way to help you achieve your New Year’s resolutions is to enlist the help of a professional. It can be extremely intimidating to try and figure out where to start if you’re exploring a new activity or skill, and sometimes a professional’s knowledge is required.
Don’t be afraid to hire some help! A professional trainer can work with you so you understand exactly how to get the most out of your local gym, or you can hire a nutritionist to help you make a healthy and tasty monthly meal plan. Sometimes a little support, especially at the beginning, will help ensure you’re on the right track.
8. Look to technology to help you
There are so many technological shortcuts these days that it should only take a little digging before you find a service, app, or website that can help you achieve your goals. The Internet is full of forums where people just like you are searching for advice, so get in there, and join in!
If you use your smartphone frequently (and let’s be honest, who doesn’t?), there’s probably an app that can help you track your calories, your sleep cycle, your exercise, or anything else that you need to keep an eye on.
9. Schedule your time
It’s unrealistic to expect that you’ll be able to achieve your New Year’s resolutions if you don’t include time to work on your goals in your weekly schedule.
There aren’t many times that we find ourselves with free time, so if you want to ensure that you’re set up to make positive changes in your life, you’ll have to schedule time in to make it happen. It’s so tempting to procrastinate, and claim that we just don’t have time for new activities, but by putting it in your schedule (and setting reminders if you need them!), you’ll be less tempted to put it off.
10. Track your progress
When you’re in the middle of working hard to achieve your goals, it can be frustrating if you don’t see progress quickly enough. Sometimes it’s easy to miss how much progress you’ve made, so this year, track your progress and compare it to where you were at on January 1st on a monthly basis. You might not see much progress on a daily or even weekly basis, but if you’re sticking to your goal, you’ll definitely be able to see progress on a monthly basis.
11. Don’t get frustrated by slip-ups
When you’re making New Year’s resolutions, it’s easy to dream big, and get frustrated when your dreams come crashing to the ground as soon as the reality of going back to work, school, and our normal, post-holiday lives sets in.
The only thing to do if you slip up is to keep going. Don’t take your momentary lapse in judgement as a sign that you’re doomed to fail. Instead, acknowledge that you made a mistake, and resolve to do better tomorrow. Stay positive by focusing on what you’ve learned, rather than where you failed.
12. Know your limits
If you want to set ambitious goals and actually achieve them, the most important quality you can cultivate is willpower. Willpower is what keeps you on that treadmill, away from those sweet treats, and is what pushes us to open a book and learn a new skill. The more you learn the limits of your willpower, the more successful you’ll be.
Plan ahead when you know your willpower will be tested, and don’t let yourself get trapped in a situation where you know your willpower will fail. This might mean eating a healthy snack before attending a party filled with treats, or scheduling workouts early in the morning so you can get it done before you’re exhausted from work.