The first of the year rings in another opportunity to set a New Year’s resolution. For many, sticking to a resolution can be a breeze in the beginning. But, as the year progresses, it becomes harder and harder to stay committed. It doesn’t have to be that way. Below, I’ve outlined some tips to help you set a realistic resolution and stick to it!
Be Specific. Define your goal. What is the final result you are looking for? You might resolve to lose weight, keep a clean house, or spend more time with your children. Imprecise goals can quickly lead to a failed resolution.
For example, a typical goal for a new year is to “exercise more,” which is pretty vague. Make your goals more tangible. For instance, determine how much time you can devote every week and go from there. If your eventual goal is to walk 30 minutes 5 days per week, try starting out with 5-10 minutes 2 days per week. Increase your activity every week or two until you are at your goal. Sometimes, it has to be only a minute or two, and that is okay.
Another classic goal is to “lose weight.” Write down how much you would like to lose. Keep in mind that 1-2 pounds per week is most doable for anyone, but that if it is only ¼ – ½ pound per week, that is still in the right direction. How much do you want to lose in January, February? Do you have a goal weight for a particular event, such as a virtual class reunion or your wedding? Be clear with your goals and it will help you achieve them.
Give yourself time. Take Baby Steps. Develop a time frame for your goal, with smaller goals to achieve along the way. Books are written page by page, chapter by chapter, not all at once. It works the same way for personal goals. No matter the size of the goal, it still needs to be broken down into individual steps. If your goal is a small one, say, clearing off the kitchen counter, it still can take steps. For instance, maybe you have piles of mail to sort through, clean dishes to put away, and dirty dishes to wash or put in the dishwasher. Maybe it’s a task that has been piling up because you had a difficult day or two and didn’t have time, and now it’s become a more time-consuming project. Break the large task down into smaller and simpler individual tasks that take less time. Maybe today you manage the dirty dishes. Then tomorrow, the clean ones, and the mail the next day. You will feel successful by accomplishing one small goal. This success will give you an emotional boost to tackle the next one. The primary goal is to just get started! And the next one is to keep going!
Be Strong. Forgive Yourself. Not every day is going to be easy, and you will probably have some setbacks. This is completely normal and a natural part of being human! You have the power to keep moving toward your goal, no matter what setbacks may occur. When the going gets tough, take a deep breath, and realize you can choose to start up again every time. A baby doesn’t give up trying to learn to walk when it takes a fall – it gets right back up and tries again. Embrace that spirit and keep on going, one step at a time!
Think positive. Thinking positively is a great tool when it comes to overcoming a bad habit or starting new, healthy ones. Your own words of encouragement can quiet self-doubt and lessen the temptation to give up. There are some very simple tools to help you remain positive. This week, I wrote my goals on a sticky note and put them on my mirror. I will see it every time I look at that mirror and remind myself that I can keep going. When you have a moment, think about and write down some phrases to repeat when you feel discouraged. Sometimes, a simple “You can do it,” is all we need to hear.
Visualize Your Success. Think about the end goal. Envision that clean kitchen counter every time you look at it. Think about that diploma on the wall. What does it look like to you to read more books or spend more time exercising? Visualize what you are trying to achieve. What will it look like to you once you will have accomplished the goal? This will help your resolve to keep moving forward.
Be Patient. Permanently changing your behavior can take months or years! You need to make a conscious effort to stay on track through the long process. It takes more than just a physical action. Mentally prepare yourself by accepting that it will take time to change.
Be Forward Thinking and Embrace a Growth Mindset. If you have had difficulties in the past (and who hasn’t??), try to identify what went wrong in those efforts. Try to identify any behavior patterns you may have that may keep you from success. Learn from that process, make changes, and then move on. Don’t focus on what you have done in the past, only what you want to have in the future.
Choose To Succeed! No one but you can make your resolution happen. Choose not to let mistakes derail you. Take a day off every once in a while. Power (or plod) through the tough times, and see your end result. The key is to just keep going. When you make the decision to succeed, you leave no room to fail. Keeping track of a resolution all year long can be difficult, but only if you let it. Keep positive to enforce your positive change.
It’s OK to Ask for Help. This is a tough one for so many people. They may believe asking for help means they are weak or that they have already failed. The most successful people I know have great support in their personal and professional lives. A good friend, a support group, help from neighbors, mentors, a coach…these people are incredibly valuable and help us when times get tough. They can help hold us accountable when we are tempted to give up on our goals. They can support us when our goals make it challenging to manage day-to-day activities. We don’t have to do it all alone.
Finally, maybe the most important tip to having success in the New Year:
Be Kind to Yourself. Think about the most inspirational coach or teacher you ever had. Most likely they would never have spoken to you the way you speak to yourself when you have a setback or find reaching your goals challenging. Speak to yourself with kindness. Accept your own humanity – it’s normal to get tired or frustrated. Use encouraging words to pick up and keep at it when you’re ready. Sometimes, life gets in the way and it may not be a great time to embrace a difficult goal. It’s okay to set something aside and come back to it when you are ready.
That’s it! 10 simple tips to resolution success. I hope you have found them helpful! Feel free to pass them around to your friends and family – we all can use a little help sometimes. I wish each one of you a blessed and joyful New Year. Be kind to yourself, be patient, think positive, and good luck!
With warm regards,
Dr. Tonya Cremin
Photo credit: Tree photo created by whatwolf – www.freepik.com