With a new year begins a fresh start – or so they say. People make resolutions as to how they are going to better their lives going forward, waiting until the exact moment on the morning of January 1st that they could begin their ‘resolutions’. Many of you have probably made resolutions yourselves, I know I have. The problem with this yearly attempt is for most, it doesn’t work. There’s a reason gyms are full in January and not so much in April. The list of hopeful resolutions simply becomes a list of the resolutions we broke already. Out of the 10 resolutions set, we may only stick with one and this is if we’re lucky. Instead of beginning the new year with goals we’re determined to achieve, we begin the year with an automatic sense of withering failure, setting ‘resolutions’ that we know in our heads are just fluff.
Will I really begin meal prepping come January 1st? Will I really begin cutting down on how much money I spend come January 1st? What about the gym membership I’m about to sign up for? Will I really stick with it in a month from now when the hype of a ‘new year, new me’ dies down?
The problem with resolutions is we aren’t serious about them. If we were serious about the changes we’re set to make, we wouldn’t wait for the new year. Just like we tell ourselves ‘I’ll start Monday’, but every time Monday hits we realize we can’t begin that same Monday so we tell ourselves next Monday and suddenly, that Monday never hits. The change is never made.
It’s simply the rule of trade. It’s tradition. Resolutions are made but rarely kept, and we crack jokes about it. Which is all fine and dandy until halfway through the year we decide those resolutions were quite important and we will try again the coming year. And the next. And the year after that. Hopeful that at some point, in some year, we will get healthier, and happier, and financially stable, and finally a little more content with our personal progress.
Ultimately, what it comes down to is how we set goals. Regardless of the changes we want to make, from finances to fitness to relationships, they all require determination. Setting a goal is great in theory – you feel inspired and excited about the end game.
As I sit here writing this in a coffee shop with a few girls sitting in front of me taking pictures of the pretty design in their latte and the cute dessert they have on the side plate, it brings me to the following analogy: But if you don’t actually pursue these goals after you set them, did you really set them?
Goal setting and achieving is not easy but it all comes down to how bad you want it and how smart and practical you are with the progress and development of each. Although we are well into January, let’s make resolutions a year round thing and let’s make them stick! Here are some of my tried and true methods of making my ‘resolutions’ stick year-round:
- Don’t overdo too much, too soon
Don’t be that person. You know the one, that says “in the new year, I’m going to start going to bed by 10 every night, get up by 6 every morning to fit in a workout before work, and I’ll take on more tasks at work to get that promotion. I’m going to stop eating take-out and make sure I prep all my meals for the week on Sundays. And I’ll put more money into savings and stop buying so many clothes, and while I’m at it I’m going to make more time for my family but just enough with extra time to read” and their list of new resolutions doesn’t end! Keep it simple. Stay away from this false hope. I get the excitement of the new year, fresh slate you feel you have ahead but don’t get so excited in the moment that you don’t accurately assess how this change will go down. It all sounds great in theory, but simplifying it in steps will make all the difference. You may see it as it may take years for you to achieve all this if you take baby steps but guess what? If you take this all on at once, chances are you won’t achieve any. It’s overwhelming even to the most focused, will-powered individuals. It gets overwhelming and once you face how much you set out to do, you have a sense of paralysis and any pursuit is frozen. Trust me, I’ve done this over and over again until I finally realized that this was the root of my failure. Choose one or two things at most that you want to change at a time and once that’s a success, move on to the next. See how your 10 pm bedtime goes before you set out to get up at 6 am and workout every morning because if the first doesn’t work instantly, neither will the following. Remember, slow and steady wins the race.
- Prioritize and understand that some of your resolutions may conflict
Some changes are more urgent than others. Analyze all the resolutions you set out with and put them on a scale of importance. Planning on going to the gym consistently this year? Awesome. But if you also plan on getting out of debt this year, you may need to reevaluate what method you’re able to use to get fit that does not consist of another monthly expense piled on to the debt you aim to tackle.
- Create a plan of action to reach the cherry on top
A vital part of goal-setting is putting together a plan of actions you’ll take to reach the goal. The details matter. And importantly, they serve as stepping stones that allow you to view your goal progress on paper. Without the plan of action, you never really know if you’re getting anywhere with your goal. Is the end goal to pay off your student loan debt? Good on you! Set your steps in getting there from your new budgeting to new forms of income, and whatever else in between. Include a timeline in the plan of action and keep up with it all.
- Be honest with yourself about your progress and success
A great way to stick to goals is sharing them with others because it gives a greater sense of commitment. For some reason, humans are okay with giving up on themselves but they never want to admit failure to others. During this process, remind yourself of how important this success is to YOU. Don’t lie to yourself about the progress. Re-evaluate constantly. This defines your willpower and allows you to prove to yourself that you don’t just talk the talk but also walk the walk.
- Reward yourself
Yes, I know the success of your goal is a reward in itself but think about one thing you really want and plan to reward yourself with it upon your success of the resolution. The truth is although some resolutions are vital to better our lives we don’t truly want to do it, but it’s necessary. We have to do it. So give yourself something in mind to get as soon as you reach your goal. And don’t always wait until the end game. Reward yourself on the way. On your way to losing 20 pounds? Include a manicure in your action plan for every 5 pounds lost. Now that’s something to look forward to!
- Don’t give up
Remember, the resolutions of the new year has to go well beyond the hype of the new year. Don’t stop aiming for the end game you hoped for. We all fall off at some point and that’s okay. It’s normal. Get back up and pushing forward. I understand the feeling of defeat when you feel like you’re on a roll but then the roll hits a bump and you feel stuck. Get rolling again. Life will get in the way of the perfect diet or the debt collection or the relationships or the fitness routine. Don’t let this make you feel defeated. Look at your plan of action once more and start from step one if you have to. Just keep going.
Now, if you are someone that set resolutions and have been keeping up with things successfully midway into January, good on you! I salute you and hope that you keep it up. If you are someone that struggled with your resolutions and want to re-start, do it. Do it now. Follow my tips or don’t. Just re-start and don’t wait until January 1st of 2018 because if you do so, keep in mind that it won’t happen until you’re serious about your resolutions. Serious enough to not wait for a new year or for the convenient Monday to occur. You deserve to accomplish every resolution that will better your life. As I wish you the best of luck, I am about to pull out a brand new notebook that will be solely dedicated to my year-round resolutions. My first resolution to tackle? Taking my side hustle more seriously. And you could bet that in the plan of action, to your joy or dismay, I aim to have more frequent posts. Happy 2017!