Chances are that you, like millions of other people, took the time on January 1 to set some goals and resolutions for yourself for the New Year. It's a great time to consider what's working and make a plan for what you want to change. The fresh start helps us feel inspired and empowered to really build the life that we want to have. The hard truth, though, is that most people's resolutions will be gone by February. The optimism of January fades away as the reality of our schedules, our responsibilities, and our bad habits become crystal clear.
The good news is that it doesn't have to be this way! You can make resolutions that last, and all it takes is a little planning ahead to make sure that you have set yourself up for success from the beginning.
1. Make the Right Kind of Goals
Vague goals are a recipe for disaster. Don't say you want to "lose weight" or "save money" or "eat better."
These aren't measurable, and there's very little to hold you accountable for them. Make them specific so that you can tell if you're actually reaching them or not. Decide that you are going to "lose 15 pounds by the end of the year" or "get $1000 in an emergency savings account" or "eat vegetables at every meal."
If you have measurable goals, you can start breaking them down into manageable chunks and make plans to turn them into a reality, but if you have vague goals, it's hard to make the plan that will turn them into a reality.
2. Be Reasonable
Speaking of what kind of goals you should make, make sure that they are attainable. Maybe you want to lose 50 pounds, but it's unlikely you're going to do that in a year. Maybe you want to have your annual salary in savings, but that's a very large goal if you're currently living paycheck to paycheck. Nothing is worse than motivation than an impossible goal. Once you realize that you aren't going to succeed, you will lose your momentum to make any changes, and you'll have a harder time getting motivated to set new goals.
Instead, set goals you can actually meet from the beginning. If you end up meeting them early, you can use your well-earned glow of success as motivation to go even further!
3. Focus on the Small Things
People tend to focus on huge changes when they imagine a better life. It's great to dream big, but the real changes in our lives are often very small. To make a change that's going to last, focus on changing your daily habits in gradual, sustainable ways.
If you want to lose weight, focus on making your workouts ten minutes longer each week. If you want to save money, focus on quitting your daily coffee shop stop and putting that money in savings. Making the change incrementally makes it much easier to do and much more likely to last. Most importantly of all, small changes add up over time to a real transformation.
4. Tell Someone Your Plan
You will be much more likely to stick to your plan if you tell someone what you have in mind. Share your plan! Join a social media group of like-minded individuals who can help you stay motivated and troubleshoot when you run into a hurdle. Tell your friends so they can help you celebrate the little milestones and remind you of your plan when you start to lose sight of it. Give yourself some cheerleaders so that you can make it to the goal!
5. Remember January Isn't Magical
January is a great symbolic time to set new goals because flipping the calendar on a fresh year feels like a new start. However, there's nothing magical about January. If you have already fallen off track of your goals, there's no reason you can't start with new goals tomorrow. There's no reason you can't decide in May or August that you want to regroup and focus on something else. Every moment is an opportunity to make the best choice you can. Use it!
Now that you know how to make your resolutions stick, it's time to go back and look at your plans. What are you going to change to make yourself the best you can be?