While I think that we can always set goals and work on improving ourselves and our lives at any time, I love the idea of a clean slate at the start of the year and the boost of motivation for change a new year brings with it. All too often, new year’s resolutions seem to get a bad rep, but I think it all comes down to the way you interpret what constitutes a new year’s resolution and how to go about trying to fulfill them.
What exactly is a new year’s resolution?
A new year’s resolution is simply a proactive way of taking control of our lives and taking the necessary steps towards positive change. The great part of setting these at the beginning of each year is that it allows us to evaluate what worked in the previous year, what might have not worked so well, and to use this knowledge to either continue to work towards uncompleted goals from the previous years or take on new challenges.
So just how do you make your new year’s resolutions stick?
1: Limit your list!
You ain’t ever gonna check off everything on your damned list if you have an overflowing amount of challenges set out for the next year. Picking a reasonable number of goals will much more likely result in a higher rate of success than having a list that goes on for pages and pages. Common sense, people!
2: Be reasonable and concrete
All too often, people set very large unattainable goals that can be rather vague. Take fitness for example: So many people add “loose weight” or “get fit” to their list of new years resolution. But this goal is extremely vague and lacks benchmarks. A simple re-write of this goal into something more concrete like: “Go to the gym at least once a week” would make a world a difference.
Being reasonable with your goals is also important. It’s also a bit unreasonable to assume that within a year you are going to be a first chair violinist or speaking Russian like a native without ever having touched a violin or speaking a word of Russian beforehand. Instead of “learn Russian,” a quick re-write of this resolution to something more along the lines of: “Sign up for and complete level A Russian” sounds like a much better resolution.
3: Make goals that are attainable
Going off of number 2, if your list of new year’s resolutions consist of a bunch of unattainable goals for the new year, you are also going to get discouraged pretty damned quickly and give up before even beginning. Choose resolutions that you know you could potentially accomplish, so long as you put in hard work.
4: …but are also continuous/able to be built upon
Choose goals that can be strung together as stepping stones to a larger goal. Remember that example about learning Russian? The best part is that this goal can be built upon. Once the first steps of learning level A Russian is completed, the next goal would be to start level B, and so on and so forth. Pretty soon, before you know it, in a few years you will be fluent.
5: Choose goals that can be evaluated
Concrete goals are not only good because they make it much easier to conceptualize what you want to accomplish and therefore will help you know exactly what you need to do in order to work towards your goal, they are also great because they allow you to evaluate your progress. Taking the above example about going to the gym: By setting a goal of going to the gym once a week, you will very easily be able to see if you are successful or not in adding a weekly gym session into your routine.
6: Re-evaluate and edit!
Re-evaluation is all about editing your new year’s resolutions! People often fail because they over-estimate what they can truly accomplish in a year but are so resolute in their list that they never stop to realize that nothing is set in stone! Just because something is on the list, does not mean it needs to stay there! Maybe one of your resolutions just isn’t that important anymore or is simply a bit too complicated and needs to be revised.
You might also find that you are meeting your new year’s resolutions sooner than scheduled. In that case, edit comes into play. Are you going to the gym weekly? Awesome. Try to edit your new year’s resolution of a weekly session and up it to two.
7: Review your list at the end of every month
In addition to making the mistake of viewing new year’s resolutions as rigid unchangeable things, we often think up our resolutions, work towards them for a few weeks, forget about them over time, and curse ourselves for failing again for another consecutive year as December 31st rolls around the following year. Not only will tip 1-4s put an end to self-loathing at New Years Eve, but in conjunction with this tip number 5, you are bound to be on your way to success-ville in no time.
At the end of each month, take a look at your new year’s resolutions and review your progress, re-evaluate, and edit! Take this edited 2.0 version of your new year’s resolutions into February and keep following this process until the end of the year. I can guarantee that if you really stick to these tips, in December of this year when you are reviewing your new year’s resolutions 12.0, you will be pleasantly surprised with how far you have come. And remember, there is no crime in not completing everything on your list! After all things do not just start and end in 365 days. Another year is also another opportunity, so simply bump any unfinished business to your new year’s resolutions list for 2017!
At the start of the following year in January, before writing your new list of new year’s resolutions, do be sure to review the arc of your successes from January to December, figure out what worked well, what didn’t, what kind of goals worked the best for you, which ones didn’t and use this knowledge to write up your next list!
So there you have it! 7 tips for making your new year’s resolutions stick (plus one bonus tip on how to transition from one new year’s resolution list to the next)! Have a tip that we may have missed? Want to share your new year’s resolutions for 2017? Let us know in the comments below!