We’ve all been there. It’s January 1st and we set our resolutions for the year; “I’m going to join the gym”, “I’m only going to order takeaway once a month”, “I’m going to be super strict on my spending”, only to watch it slowly go downhill. So how do we set resolutions and actually follow through with them?
1. Mentally prepare for change
Change is hard. You’ve been yourself for this long, and adding or changing something you do can be a shock to the system. Before you dive head-first into your New Year’s resolutions you need to take a step back and prepare yourself for the change you’re about to make.
Start by taking a personal inventory. Reflect on your last year’s resolutions and ask yourself “What did I set up to do in the past year?” “Where did I make progress?” and “Where didn’t I see progress?”. By understanding where you excelled, and where you didn’t, can help you with your new goals as you know ahead of time some obstacles you might encounter.
2. Set a goal that motivates you
Make sure your resolution is actually for YOU. So many times people set goals that aren’t even what they want, but what someone else has dictated, eg. a family member, partner, peer pressure etc.
Though it is nice for others to encourage you to achieve your goals, unless you’re invested in it yourself, it won’t happen. Your resolution should be important to you and only you, and there should be value or a benefit in it. Therefore, your resolutions should align with your values, priorities, dreams, and aspirations.
3. Limit resolutions to a manageable amount
Though it can be tempting to decide to fully change your life through your New Year’s resolutions, make sure you start with a handful of achievable tasks. You don’t want to set too many goals, spread yourself too thin, and subsequently not complete any of them because it’s too overwhelming.
If you’re finding it hard to narrow down your goals, think of what’s most important to you, write a list, and prioritise your goals. Though it can be difficult to order your resolutions from most to least important, it will pay off in the long run.
And remember, it is better to tackle one resolution well than multiple resolutions poorly.
4. Be specific
You may have heard of it before, but when it comes to goal setting, you should consider implementing the SMART framework. Standing for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-Sensitive, the SMART framework helps you create resolutions you are more likely to achieve.
5. Break up big goals into smaller ones
Many of us get a little over-enthusiastic when it comes to New Year’s resolutions and can end up setting goals that are too big for us to handle all in one go. One way to go about this huge goal is to break it up into smaller sections.
Creating a list of sub-tasks can help you achieve your overall goal through carefully throughout steps. For example, you may want lose weight (one of the most common New Year’s resolutions!) but just saying “lose weight” is not enough. You can break this goal down into smaller sections including how often you eat specific foods, outlining which days you’re going to work out, putting limits on how often you order takeaway, setting dates you want to achieve target weights etc.
By focussing on each smaller task rather than the larger picture, you feel better about completing each step and more motivated to keep going.
6. Write down your goals
Though it may seem silly, writing down your goals can help you achieve them. We are only human and forget things from time to time, and your resolutions can be one of these things that can just slip your mind.
You can write your goals down in a diary, in your phone, or stick reminders around the house. Also, writing down your goals can help you clarify what you want to achieve and motivate you to keep going.
(Also if you date your notes regarding your resolutions, can you see exactly how far you’ve come once you’ve achieved them).
7. Share your resolutions with others
Another way to not forget about your resolution is to tell someone what you’re trying to achieve. Plus, if no one knows about what you’re trying to accomplish, if you start to forget about your goal, no one is there to help you get back on track. You also feel more motivated to complete your goal if you’ve shared it with others, as you now have a sense of obligation and accountability.
8. Automate where possible
Chances are you have a smart phone, laptop, tablet, computer, or some other form of technology that can help you follow through with your New Year’s resolution. By setting reminders, scheduling times to reflect, keeping a food diary, counting your steps, etc. you can track your progress and motivate yourself to keep going.
Just remember, you can set as many reminders as you want, but you still have to put in the hard work to achieve your goals!
9. Review your resolution regularly
As mentioned earlier, it is easy for your resolution to slip your mind, however, even if you are constantly thinking about your resolution, if you don’t review it regularly, you can easily lose track of your progress or give up all together. You should be aiming to review your resolution at least once a month but know the more frequently you revisit it the better. You’ll be able to not only see how you’re progressing, but also make adjustments to your goal based on that progress or your life.
10. If you fall off track, get back on quick
Setbacks can happen, there are always going to be obstacles in your way, and it is really easy to just give up, but it will be sooooo much better if you pick yourself back up and complete your resolution to the best of your ability.
You are not a failure if you complete your goal late or if you need to change your resolution based on circumstances in or out of your control, if you just try your best, keep pushing through, and encourage yourself to get to the finish line, you are a success.
Just remember to stay positive, try to make your changes at a steady pace and of an achievable size, and don’t give up! You’ve got this!