Reading Time: 3 minutesIt’s that time of year again where we reflect on the year that has passed and think about what we want to accomplish the next year. Making New Year’s Resolutions has many negative connotations, with many saying that they are often abandoned within weeks (to be precise, within a month!) essentially setting you up for failure. But this doesn’t have to be the case! You may just be setting the wrong resolutions, or approaching accomplishing them in the wrong way. Here’s six steps to keep your New Year’s resolutions.
Choose the Right Resolution For You
Before you set your resolutions, think about whether you are making the right resolution for you, or whether it’s been influenced by what someone else says. You also need to consider how vague it is and how you plan to achieve it (more on that later).
Break Down Your Goals
Making big and nice-sounding goals, like “lose 15kgs” or “learn to play the guitar” means nothing if you have no idea how to achieve them. Break down your resolutions into smaller, actionable steps to give you a clearer path to achieving them. So instead of “lose 15 kgs,” it could be “run four times a week,” and “prepare meals at home five days a week.” Or, instead of “learn to play the guitar,” it could be “practice guitar for 30 minutes a day” or “learn three new chords a week.”
Another way to approach this breaking down of goals is to make SMART goals:
- Specific: make sure that your resolution is absolutely clear.
- Measurable: keeping track of your progress can keep you motivated
- Achievable: set New Year’s resolutions that you can realistically keep to and achieve – for example, if you want to lose 15 kgs but you already weigh 60 kgs, it’s not a realistic (or safe!) goal to achieve. You don’t want to be demotivated because you’ve set a goal that you simply can’t achieve.
- Relevant: have you set a resolution that matters to you? Are you doing it for the right reasons?
- Time-bound: similar to “achievable,” your timeline to achieving your goal must be realistic, giving you enough time to achieve each step of your resolution.
Make it as Easy as Possible to Achieve Your Goals
Shawn Achor, a “happiness researcher” and author of The Happiness Advantage, discovered that just 20 extra seconds of “activation effort” – the energy it takes to get started – is enough to cause most people not to do an activity. So, if you can reduce the time it takes to do something new by just 20 seconds, like moving the guitar next to your bed or laying your workout clothes the night before, you’re more likely to do it everyday!
Go Easy on Yourself
It’s okay to have setbacks – you’re only human, after all! The habits that you are trying to change likely took years to develop, so you can’t expect to change them in a matter of weeks! Be patient with yourself and recognise that a misstep or two aren’t going to derail your journey. It’s a marathon, not a sprint.
It may be a good idea to keep track of your achievements (going back to our examples: losing your first 5 kgs or playing your first song on the guitar) so that when you’re feeling particularly low on motivation, you can refer to it to keep you going.
You also need to try and make your routine flexible. For example, if you have a party tonight that stops you from running, don’t beat yourself up, simply make time for it tomorrow or go running in the morning.
Give it Time
We’ve all heard that forming a new habit takes 21 days, however it may actually be closer to 66 days! We all have days where we’re lacking in motivation, but as long as you stick to the plan you’ve created that lays out the daily actions you need to take, you’ll eventually come to see it as part of your routine. For example, you may soon find that running helps you sleep better at night, giving you an incentive to keep going. Be patient with the process, and try not to give us as soon as your motivation starts dipping.
Find a Support System
Let your friends and family know your plans. Not only will this help you hold yourself accountable, but sharing your accomplishments (and your setbacks) will also help keep you motivated!
If you don’t want to involve family or friends, why not find online or in-person support groups and forums with people who are reaching for the same goal? Join a running club or take group guitar lessons.
Putting a simple plan in place will help you keep your New Year’s resolutions, taking the intimidation and fear out of it!
Featured image by Shutterstock; picture 1 courtesy of @andykwok_hk; picture 2 courtesy of Shutterstock; picture 3 courtesy of Shutterstock