Studies have shown that less than half of the population that makes New Year’s resolutions succeed in fulfilling them. People often set themselves up for failure or simply don’t take their goals seriously enough.
In an effort to circumvent this, I reached out to a few friends to brainstorm how to ensure our New Year’s resolutions are a success. Here's what we found:
1. Stack your lifestyle changes gradually, rather than all at once.
Failure is more imminent if you try things all at once or if you try to give something up cold turkey.
One project I’m doing is called 66 Days of Change. Every week in 2015, I’ll pick a new lifestyle change and try it out for at least 66 days. I’ll track it and write in a journal about it, and at the end of 66 days, I’ll pick whether I want to stick with that specific change or not.
By doing this, I can get through a number of different changes and explore what I want. By giving myself the option at the end of 66 days to quit it, I’m not failing my commitments. In fact, I’m meeting them.
2. Don’t look at the scale every day.
Your weight fluctuates, so checking it daily doesn’t always give you an accurate read of where you stand.
Scales don’t define you. They’re good to check in with, and they give you milestone markers, but ultimately, your weight goals are a direct correlation to your healthier lifestyle, which is the important part. Scales can be discouraging if we look at them daily.
3. Remember why you picked your resolutions.
It’s easy to lose sight of our visions. Sometimes, our commitments just aren’t convenient to what we’re doing in the moment.
Maybe, you’ve decided to go vegetarian, but all your friends want to go to the steakhouse. It can be awfully tempting to dive into a steak for the rookie vegetarian, and at that fork in the road, we truly make it or break it.
Remembering why we’re doing what we’re doing and staying conscious of it can help us stay accountable to our goals at work, in health, with our families or wherever our lives may be at the moment.
4. Equal trade.
It’s important that if you “give up” or quit something, you are conscious of what you’re replacing it with.
For instance, if you give up energy drinks, what will you put in place of it? In order for a behavior to become a habit, you need to have a cue. So, every time you crave an energy drink, have a green tea, instead.
5. Be specific, but be generous.
Rather than say, “I want to lose 60 pounds this year,” give yourself smaller, more attainable goals, broken down in smaller time frames. As an example, if losing weight is your goal, first start with that as your premise. Don’t necessarily put an overall number on it.
Break the same goal down incrementally to set yourself markers and then adjust as you see fit while the year progresses. “I want to lose 10 pounds by March” seems reasonable. After you hit that success, you can create a new goal, based on how well you did that one.
6. Do it for yourself, but let the thought of others hold you accountable.
Ultimately, leading healthy lifestyles should be for ourselves. But, our lifestyle changes may impact people in our lives, as well, which should motivate us to do better.
If you want to focus on money management, imagine what that can do for your family.
7. Find a partner.
Have someone with whom you can check in. See how this person is doing with goals and try to align them with yours. It’s good to have a peer to help keep you in check.
That said, be picky. If you’re going to have a partner to help with your goals, make sure it’s someone who won’t give in, either. Otherwise, you may find it easier to justify giving up on your goals.
8. Read about it.
We spend more time than we probably should reading about other people’s business on Facebook. So, if you’re going to read, why not read something relevant to your goals?
Every day, I spend at least half an hour reading something related to my goals — whether it be my job, diet, time management or anything else.
9. Announce it the world!
Speaking of people reading about other people’s business, when you have success, share it with others. You’re likely to get congratulations and encouragement to keep pushing forward.
10. Reward yourself.
Find ways to reflect your success that are uniquely gratifying. One idea is to create a jar that is decorated to theme. When you reach one of your many goals, write a note down and put it in the jar. At the end of the next year, enjoy this jar of successful reflection.
But, whether it’s something like that or merely giving yourself a shopping day, find a way to give yourself a pat on the back and take pride in your small successes.
11. No excuses.
Failures happen. You may not hit every goal on your checklist, and that’s okay. But, don’t become complacent with excuses to justify why you’re not successful because eventually, making excuses will become a regular habit.
If your work schedule interferes with your ability to go to the gym, figure out a way to fix it rather than let your schedule define you. No one ever said the routines we customize to our goals would be easy.
It’s never too late or too soon to start new goals. The start of the New Year shouldn’t be the incentive you need to better yourself. So, wherever you are in life and whatever you’re doing, do better!