With each new year comes fresh starts and new challenges. Whether you already know your goals for 2023, or you’re still working on them, making new year’s resolutions is a great way to get off on the right foot.
The only problem is, 365 days is a long time to stick to something, especially alongside being a mum, working, and all that general “life” stuff.
So, how do we set goals that are realistic and achievable? And how do we stay motivated and passionate for a whole 12 months?
After years of disappointment when my new year’s resolutions would fail miserably halfway through January, I decided to try and find the formula for success. I’m not saying all my goals are reached without a glitch but I definitely have a higher success rate and know how to make the journey of reaching them more enjoyable.
There is no big secret or magic spell. Just simple guides to apply and follow.
So without further ado, here is my guide to making new year resolutions that actually last the year.
HOW TO MAKE NEW YEAR RESOLUTIONS THAT ACTUALLY LAST THE YEAR
Set clear goals
“What is my target weight and how will I lose it?”
“How much money do I want to save and what is it for?”
“How exactly do I want to be a better person?”
When setting goals, make them SMART, which is:
- Time Bound
I find if I drill in on the objective, I will execute a more effective plan to achieve it, and I have a clearer vision of the end goal which drives my motivation.
Break down big goals into small, manageable steps with realistic objectives.
Baby steps are the way to go. Instead of grand ideas about training daily for the next triathlon or saving so much money that you won’t have enough to feed the kids dinner, think:
“I will go to the gym 2-3 times a week.”
“I will save 5% from my pay cheque.
“I will give 2-hours of every week to a charitable cause.”
Goals such as these are achievable and don’t require drastic changes to your lifestyle. Clear, attainable goals help form good habits that last.
Choose one goal
Come on, we’ve all come out of two years of lockdowns and have a lot of catching up to do, this includes reaching our many goals.
But hang-fire. Don’t try to do too much at once.
Instead, choose one goal and work from there.
For me, having a lot of big goals at the same time (lose weight, save for a house deposit, and get promoted) robs me of focus and energy and usually ends in disappointment.
Make a schedule
A goal needs to be carefully wrapped with plans and timelines.
To do this, I write down my goals on a calendar, wall planner, or goal tracker app. In my mind, this makes my resolution a priority because I am setting aside my precious time to actually do it. An app also helps you track progress, reschedule activities if needed and see how far you’ve come.
These time blocks are as important as your work and other activities, and like a doctor’s appointment, it’s important to show up and make it happen.
Committing to a goal can be as simple as telling a family member, friend, or work colleague about it so you stay focused and motivated. Some people make their goals public on social media, while others make a promise to a person they look up to, like a teacher or a boss. Hell, I even tell your kids … after all, they are my biggest fans!
When you tell people you love about your goal, you become more accountable … and therefore, committed.
HOW TO FOLLOW THROUGH WITH YOUR NEW YEAR’S RESOLUTIONS
Yes, there are always people out there who will help you reach your goals. Think:
- Need help saving? Contact a program such as SaverPlus
- Want to lose weight? Join a diet program
- What to buy your forever home? Contact a mortgage broker
There is always support out there, you just have to search for it.
Make a battle plan
When you decide in advance how you will deal with challenges like procrastination, exhaustion, and lack of focus, you’re more likely to stick to your schedule and do the work when the going gets tough.
I ward off tough times with positive self-talk, affirmations, and calling someone on my support system for encouragement.
Get back on track
You will inevitably feel discouraged, tired, bored or distracted on your way to accomplishing your goal. And you will inevitably slip up.
That’s perfectly okay.
What is not okay is to let a temporary setback get the best of you and make you give up.
Stop obsessing about the mistake and move on.
Big goals often take a long time to achieve, that’s why we break them down into smaller and more realistic objectives. But even small goals can take time.
If you’re exhausted or you’re just not feeling it, take a break. Remember that lasting change takes time and progress is rarely straightforward… I speak from experience.
Say no to ‘all or nothing’ thinking
All-or-nothing thinking can keep you from reaching your goals.
When you’ve already missed the gym twice this week, you might think that it’s better to just start fresh next week or not bother going back at all. But a half effort or any effort is better than absolutely nothing at all.
On tough days, do the absolute minimum. Even if it’s just doing one push-up, eating one less candy bar, or writing a paragraph of your novel. Then give yourself a big pat on the back for your effort.
STICKING TO YOUR NEW YEAR’S RESOLUTIONS
Monitor your progress
You won’t know how much weight you’ve lost if you don’t step on the scale. And you won’t know if you’re moving closer to your goal if you don’t track progress.
This is so much easier to do now with healthy eating apps that monitor weight loss, activity level, calorie intake and other variables. Other apps also track progress towards any goal you might have.
The important thing is to record activity so you can see if you need to adjust your schedule/work harder or reward yourself for a job well done.
Learn the lessons
I have had many failures and you will have to.
Take a moment to learn a lesson when you fail. This helps you identify what works and what doesn’t.
Maybe your goal is not realistic enough or it needs to be broken into smaller steps. Maybe you need to address an underlying problem first, such as depression, procrastination or time management, before committing to any major, life-altering transformation.
For the goals that I have failed to reach I have learned at least one lesson from them.
Let gratitude be your attitude
The small percentage of people who actually achieve their new year’s resolutions are winners not because they didn’t slip up but because they completed the task.
You can reach your goal even when you do less than you’d like to do. If you can only manage to save $70 this month instead of the planned $100, or you only squeezed in a 15-minute workout today instead of 30, be thankful.
Remember, you’re still moving closer to your goal as long as you don’t give up altogether.
Give yourself a nice reward after completing a milestone. Don’t wait until you’ve reached the finish line.
Regular rewards are my biggest motivation. If you associate hard work with a positive experience (the reward) instead of a negative one (boredom, drudgery), it will be easier to move forward.
So have that cheat meal or treat yourself to a movie … you deserve it.