It’s about that time of year when you go from stuffing yourself for the holidays, to binge drinking into the New Year. After the January 1st hangover wears off, the majority of us will “start anew” by launching into our list of resolutions. You start the year off with such promise and such hope that this year, this will be the year that you finally start sticking to your resolutions.
Then by mid-February you’re back at it. Back into those old habits that you wanted to leave behind the year before. So how can you do it right this year? How can you stick to those resolutions all year long?
Sticking to Your Resolutions 101:
1. Be Realistic
Vowing to lose a large number of pounds, getting completely out of debt or quitting smoking are all great resolutions to stick to. But let’s be real here—why didn’t you do it last year?
How can you lose 20lbs this year when you couldn’t lose 5 last year?
How can you get completely out of debt when it’s close to what you make in a year?
How can you quit smoking cold turkey when you’ve been smoking for as long as you have?
Part of sticking to your resolutions is to not set yourself up for failure, so set realistic goals and expectations.
Resolution Fix: Instead of resolving to lose X number of pounds, resolve to work out and eat healthier. Resolve to cut your debt by a realistic number, say 30% this year. And resolve to quit smoking—though not necessarily cold turkey.
2. Make a Plan
All great goals require the implementation of a plan. It’s easy to wish it into the air, but the more you plan, the better shot you have at sticking to your resolutions this year.
Again, while creating your plan, be realistic. It’s not realistic to go from not working out at all and eating like crap to an all Paleo diet and hitting the gym 5x a week. Most of us will manage a week or so on that plan before we crash and burn. Start making some healthy swaps in your diet and hit the gym/studio/kickboxing ring/whatever a couple days a week. Then increase it from there.
With your debt, look at your paycheck and decide what percentage you can set aside each check to start chipping away. Set up an auto draft to your savings for that amount and every month allocate the amount you set aside to your debt.
Resolution Fix: You can apply the plan to any resolution you may have. Think about what you want to achieve and create the path to get there, one step at a time.
3. Set Small Goals
Every big goal should be broken into smaller ones. It’s a hell of a lot easier to stick to your resolutions when you can actually see yourself making progress, rather than feeling like you’re so far away from your main goal. I tend to set small quarterly goals and smaller monthly goals. That way if I reach them, I always feel like I’m moving forward rather than staying stagnant.
So rather than “This year my goal is to lose 20lbs” try: “This month I’d like to lose Xlbs or X inches (I’m really against measuring progress with pounds rather than inches/body fat, by the way. Weight itself doesn’t mean a whole lot.) And “This quarter I want to lose Xlbs/X inches”
Same for your debt. Instead of looking at it like you want to pay off $4000 in a year, start by paying $300 or so a month and $1000 or so a quarter. Pay a little extra when you can and you’ll hit that big goal.
Resolution Fix: Keep it real. When you can see the small steps towards the big goal you’re more likely to get there.
4. Reward Yourself
You will not be able to stick to your resolutions if you don’t dangle a carrot. Keep these things in mind when you’re creating your list of rewards.
Small goal = small reward
Quarterly goal = bigger reward
Year Goal = Big, huge, celebratory reward!
You also want the rewards to be both desirable and unrelated. Meaning that if your goal is to lose weight you do not reward yourself with food or a day of skipping a workout. Instead splurge on a pair of shoes or a new accessory. That big, huge goal could be a shopping trip to get you some new clothes to fit that hot body you worked so hard for.
Same goes for your debt—while it’s okay to splurge now and then (outside from the money you are setting aside every month), try to reward yourself with things that aren’t going to put you deeper into the hole.
Resolution Fix: Your success deserves a reward. There’s nothing wrong with celebrating small victories and being proud of your hard work.
5. Set Reminders
Holding yourself accountable is key to sticking to your resolutions. Sure, you can get a gym buddy or ask your mom to help you budget and manage your finances or get your boyfriend to slap you whenever you pick up a cigarette (just kidding your boyfriend should never slap you!), but at the end of the day these are your goals and you are responsible for achieving them.
Since our world is practically run by gadgets, I like to set reminders on my calendar that also alert my phone. Setting bi-weekly & monthly reminders to “check-in” with yourself and see how you’re doing, where you’re at and if you’re still working towards your goals will help you to stay on track if you start to derail. Or at the very least make you feel even just a tiny bit guilty for blowing off your plan.
Resolution Fix: Hold yourself accountable. The only person to blame if you don’t make goals is you. You can’t own your successes if you don’t own your bumps in the road. So, avoid that all together and keep yourself organized and on track.
No one is perfect and the reason why sticking to your resolutions all year is so hard is because, well—it’s freaking hard! It’s important to be patient with yourself. Not everything works the first time around so give yourself the space to reassess your plan and figure out what works best for you. Maybe you do better with group classes rather than the gym. Maybe you need more rewards. Maybe you have to set more realistic goals. Whatever it is that’s keeping you from moving forward, you need to figure it out and get past it.
Resolution Fix: You owe it to yourself to stick to your resolutions. Don’t quit and let them sit there in the corner like a pink elephant until next year. Remember that all things worth having and achieving take a good amount of work and effort. You can’t just show up on January 1st and expect your resolutions to take care of themselves.
Are you guilty of the February Fail or do you tend to stick to your resolutions?
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