On a scale of 1-10 (with 10 being the highest), how would you rate your ability to stick with your New Year’s resolutions?
A perfect 10.0, delivering a medal-worthy performance on carrying through with your resolutions? Or maybe closer to 1.0, with the resolution never making it past the New Year’s Eve countdown? Somewhere in the middle?
Many of us struggle to keep New Year’s resolutions. We get caught up in the excitement that comes with making a fresh start in the New Year. We commit to going to the gym 14 times a week, only eating foods that are the color orange, and we’ll never, ever be late to an appointment again.
Sometimes we fall a little short of our resolution goals. But that doesn’t mean that we have to give up on our resolutions entirely! Keep reading for tips to jumpstart your resolutions and make this the year you achieve your New Year’s resolution goals.
1. Recognize that resolutions are change – and change is hard
An important thing to remind yourself is that resolutions represent change. And we all know that change is hard.
We seem to give ourselves a break when we struggle to adapt to change, but don’t give ourselves the same kind of break when we struggle to stick to a resolution.
Think of resolutions as changes you’re going to implement. When you think of resolutions as changes, you are mentally prepping yourself for a challenge. You know it’s going to be tough, but you’ve got what it takes to follow-through and implement the change.
2. Acknowledge the set-back and move on
Many of us have a tendency to be really hard on ourselves when we fall short with a resolution or goal.
While it’s important to recognize when we haven’t accomplished what we wanted to accomplish, it’s also important to let it go and move on.
Maybe you made a resolution to stick to a strict diet and lose 10 pounds by Valentine’s Day. But then there was that baby shower brunch and that second (or third!) cupcake you just couldn’t resist. It can be easy at this moment to get down on yourself and think about giving up on the resolution entirely.
But instead of abandoning your resolution altogether, acknowledge that you had a temporary setback. Setbacks are inevitable – the important thing is that you don’t let the setback stop you from moving forward.
3. Figure out what went wrong
While we don’t want to dwell on a setback, it’s a good idea to think about why the setback occurred. Then you can correct course to prevent the setback from happening again. Some things to consider:
- Was your resolution specific enough? Say you made a resolution to lose weight. What does success look like for that resolution? Are you going to lose a specific amount of weight, say 5 pounds? Do you have a timeline for losing that weight, maybe in time for your sister’s wedding? If you don’t have a specific goal in mind, it’s easy to lose focus and abandon your resolution. Set a specific goal to help you focus on success.
- Did you have an action plan to implement the resolution? This year, say you set a resolution to exercise three times a week. Do you have a plan for what type of exercise you’re going to do, where you’re going to do it, and when you’re going to do it? By creating a specific, step-by-step action plan for a resolution, it’s easier to tackle and you’re more likely to stick with it.
- Did the resolution fit into your normal, day-to-day routine? Although a resolution can (and should!) be a stretch goal, it’s still easier to obtain the goal if you consider how the resolution will fit into your normal routine. If you made a resolution to cook at home every weeknight, did the resolution consider when you’d find time to go to the grocery store and to cook, especially if your schedule is already stretched thin? In this case, maybe you make a plan to stop by the grocery store on Friday night on your way home from work and make a goal to cook in bulk on Sunday afternoons when you have more free time. Whatever your resolution is, it should be worked into your normal routine so that you’re more likely to make it a part of your regular habits.
- Were you held accountable for your resolution? Having someone hold you accountable for a resolution can be one of the best ways to stick to a resolution. If a friend or family member regularly checks in with you on how you’re doing with your resolution, you’re more likely to feel accountable to follow-through on the resolution. You could even start a blog to track your progress!
4. Modify your resolutions
After you figure out why you had a setback with your resolution, consider whether you should modify your resolution.
If your resolution didn’t work the first time around, there’s a good chance it won’t work the second time around without some modifications. Based on what went wrong, can you modify the resolution so that you’re less likely to stumble for the same reason again? Use the questions in section 3 above as a guide to help you modify your resolution.
I recommend that you also take time to analyze what motivates you and think about how that applies to your resolution. Your past track record is a great way to help you figure out your personal motivations.
Think of a time when you were successful with a goal that was similar to your current resolution. What was it about that past action that motivated you to succeed? For example, I know that I’m more likely to succeed when there’s some type of competition attached to my resolution. If I’m left to my own devices, I might never go to the gym. But when one of my brothers tells me that he’s going to be more trim than me at the next family reunion? Suddenly I’m the gym’s most frequent customer!
Just because you stumbled a little bit doesn’t mean that you need to give up on your resolution!
There’s no rule that says that when you break a resolution that you have to wait until next New Year’s to try again. Acknowledge the setback and immediately recommit to the resolution.
After considering what went wrong, you can modify your resolution so that you’re more likely to succeed going forward. Once you’ve made those modifications, refocus and recommit to your resolution. You’ve got this!
Want to read more? Check out The Secret to Keeping Your New Year’s Resolutions.