January 5, 2021
Every year as January rolls around, you and people all over the world proclaim a list of goals you want to achieve by the following December. Almost as quickly as you come up with your ambitions, you find yourself falling off track, leaving your intentions unfulfilled. And what seems almost immediate, you find yourself back in your old ways, possibly even further away from achieving your goals, questioning why your New Year’s resolution failed yet again.
But this year, you don’t have to succumb to that vicious cycle of failing resolutions. This is the year you can make them happen. We put together 8 easy tips to help you stay motivated and conquer the resolutions you set out to accomplish. Whether you’re looking to lose weight, start new healthy habits, achieve a goal at work or accomplish something financially, these tips on how to keep your New Year’s resolutions will set you up for success.
1. Be Specific and Realistic
At some point in your life, whether at school or work, you’ve probably heard of SMART goals. This principle says that any goal you set should be specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-sensitive. Getting in this mindset will help you set good New Year’s resolutions that you can actually keep.
Instead of saying “I’m going to live a healthier lifestyle,” define what this means for you. Does this mean limiting fast food trips each month? Is it losing 15 pounds?
Once you determine your New Year’s goal, sit back and ask yourself: Is this goal truly realistic? It’s easy to set a large, vague goal, but if it is so far out of your reach, you’re likely to not be able to keep up with it.
Let’s say your goal is to pay off all of your debt. Think about if you realistically have the means to accomplish that in just 12 months. It may be better to scale down your debt and set a more achievable goal such as committing to a certain dollar amount each month that fits into your budget. Reflecting on your current situation, your capabilities and limitations is vital to your success. After all, your resolutions this year can be catalysts to bigger goals down the road.
2. Try to Pick New Resolutions
If you find yourself in the same rut year after year, you might not be setting the right goals for you. Just because your friends or family set one goal, doesn’t mean that’s what you should do. This year, if you want to succeed in keeping your New Year’s resolutions, try setting goals that you haven’t tried before. If joining a gym has failed for you each year, why not try getting into a home workout routine? Or maybe take up an active activity such as hiking, biking or kayaking.
Breaking up your routine and trying something new could be the motivation you need to stick with your resolutions, and in the long run, these alternate activities could help get you in the right mindset to tackle the goals you previously didn’t succeed in keeping.
3. Identify Why You’re Setting Each Goal
According to Dr. Marcelos Campos for Harvard Health Publishing, finding your true motivation is an important factor in determining success with your goals. By identifying your motivating factors for your goals, you can remind yourself why you are working hard when you may be feeling down, or less motivated. If you are setting goals just to set them, you won’t be able to maintain your motivation in achieving them, as your mind won’t be bought in.
Write down your motivations and keep them in a visible or easily accessible place. If you find yourself having a rough day, falling off track or trying to get back into your good habits, you can reflect on your motivations and the why behind the New Year’s goals you’re working toward.
4. Plan and Outline Your Strategy
While picking the right resolution for you is important, figuring out how you’re going to achieve it is, too. Once you have settled on your goals, think about the steps it will take to achieve them.
If your goal is to pay off $1,000 in debt, then map out how you plan on doing this, whether it be setting aside $50 each paycheck or taking on an additional job. If your goal is to lose 25 pounds, how many days a week do you plan on working out, and what healthy meals will you incorporate into your strategy?
Plan and figure out backup plans for when you can’t stick to your routine. Maybe that means outlining your delivery options for a quick, healthy lunch when you are too busy to prep a meal, or keeping backup meals in the freezer for when you forget your food on the counter.
5. Talk About Your Goals
You might be embarrassed to admit your goals, but you shouldn’t be! Find someone you can talk to about what you want to achieve in the new year. Share your new habits with those closest to you and they can support you. These people can motivate you when you’re feeling down and help keep you accountable as the months go on. You might even find friends and family members who have similar goals, and you all can work together to make your dreams a reality. It’s much more fun when someone is by your side.
Say you and a friend are committed to eating out less. You can meet up to prep your meals together each week. Talking to each other throughout the process will keep you both accountable. With busy schedules, try ordering your groceries ahead of time. This way, neither you nor your friend can use the excuse of “I don’t have time to go to the grocery store.” Plus, you’ll have more time to cook together and plan out a successful week.
6. Journal and Meditate
Mental health is a priority when it comes to making changes in life and keeping up with healthy habits. That’s why taking time to journal can help keep you on the right path this year, even if your goals aren’t wellness-related. Journaling has a lot of mental health benefits, which extend beyond keeping track of your progress and feelings on your New Year’s journey. Journaling can help you take stock of your emotions and progress, which in turn can aid in recognizing habits that are beneficial and harmful on your path to change this year. It can help you identify factors that can otherwise lead to demotivation or cause you to fall off your journey toward change.
Meditation is another tool to help benefit your mental health throughout your year of change. There are a lot of different tools out there to help aid in mediation, like the Calm app and many online guides. Taking time to focus on your headspace will help ensure your head is in the game and ready to help you conquer your plan to adopt better habits.
7. Reward Yourself and Celebrate Wins
Every milestone is an achievement when it comes to working toward a goal! Set specific times throughout the year where you will reward yourself for accomplishing milestones. This strategy can help keep you motivated.
If you are someone who likes to play games or compete, try gamifying your plan. If you can accomplish a milestone by March, then you will take the vacation you have been dying to go on. Or maybe if you practice your new habit for a certain number of weeks in a row, then you will enjoy a nice dinner out. Whatever your motivations may be, reward yourself and celebrate all of the little and big things you achieve on your path to keeping your New Year’s resolutions.
8. Don’t Give Up
Finally, it’s important to keep going with your goals—no matter what. We know this is easy to say and harder to follow, but with the tools above, you’re equipped to take on this new year. Sure, you’ll have off days or even weeks, but that doesn’t mean you have to completely restart. After all, we are all human and no one is perfect. Don’t beat yourself up. The key is to get right back on track and restart your routine. You were able to do it once before when you first started, so what’s stopping you from getting going again?
If you find yourself feeling demotivated, take a look back at your journal and previous accomplishments. Remind yourself of the reasons why you want to achieve your resolutions. Don’t be afraid to talk to family and friends and look for their support when you’re feeling like you’re off track. As much as you want to succeed, the people closest to you want you to reach those goals, too.