6 Ways to Make Your New Years’ Resolutions Stick

It’s January 2nd!  Did you set a handful of lofty New Years’ resolutions that you’re totally pumped to stick with yesterday?  Do you think, come March or maybe even Friday, you might be struggling to keep those resolutions?  Never fear!  Let’s talk about some ways we can make those resolution stick!

New Years is a super popular time to set goals.  Your motivation is at a level 10, you have all kinds of enthusiasm, and you set off to get a gym membership, sign up for a class, or start working on creating your website (I’m looking at you, artists still using your Facebook or Instagram)!  You are on a roll for a little bit of time but then something happens.  Maybe you get a cold and have to take three days off of the gym. Maybe you have a run in with McDonalds and a McFlurry happens.  Maybe you hit a snag and can’t figure out how to make your photos align the way you want them to, so you start to lose motivation and, eventually, your goal grinds to a halt.  That’s a bummer.  But!  There are ways you can prevent this or, at least, roll with the punches and not give up on your goals!

But why do you want to floss?

1.  Ask Yourself Why

If you understand why you want to achieve this goal and that reason energizes you vs shames you, you’re more likely to achieve it.  For example, if you set a goal to lose weight because you “should,” the result is low-quality motivation that, after the initial spark of enthusiasm wears off, fizzles out to resentment and a general sense of “meh.”  However, if you want to lose weight because you want to improve your quality of life, then you’re more likely to stay motivated.  

Why do you want to get your website up and running?  Not because you “should” in order to look professional and legit — that just makes you grumpy and resentful.  You want to get your website up and running to improve your bookings, stand out as a top-notch professional artist, and live your dream!  It’s all in how you look at it. 

Wants get you excited about doing them.  Shoulds make you want to poke someone in the eye after a month or so..  Image:  https://kylecease.com/

When we want to achieve a goal, we are more likely to stick with it than if we feel that we should achieve a goal.  That enthusiasm and energy is crucial to sticking with that resolution.  Not excited about developing a housework schedule for yourself?  Find a way to make it into something you WANT to achieve, like not running around like a psycho cleaning and throwing things into closets when your mom says she’s coming over.  

Break your large goal into multiple smaller supporting goals to give yourself the satisfaction of checking something off of your list sooner rather than later!.  Image: http://kodjoworkout.com

2.  Make Them Small and Specific

I’m not saying to make your goals small, necessarily, although smaller, more achievable goals are the more successful of the bunch.  Goals are more likely to be achieved when they are broken into smaller mini-goals.  This creates an organized plan with lots of accomplishments that you can hit and feel great about!  Who doesn’t love checking something off of your list!?  

Also, knowing exactly what you want to achieve is imperative to the goal’s success.  “I want to get in shape,” isn’t a super specific goal.  What does that mean?  Do you want to lose 10lbs?  Do you want to commit to 45 min each morning on the eliptical?  Do you want to reduce your cholesterol?  Do you just want to look better naked?  Specify what it is you want to achieve so your goal has meat to it and you can make a plan to achieve it. 

Another factor is the type of goal you set.  Think of it as aspirations vs obligations.  When you set a goal that you hope to achieve, you are more susceptible to failre when something more attractive pops up, like a nap, pizza, cigarette, or the luxury of not learning how to create a website.  When you reframe your goals into something you are obligated to do, like stop smoking so you’ll be healthy for your kids, wearing sunscreen every day so you can prevent signs of aging and cancer, or sending out hand-written thank you cards because your clients expect to be genuinely thanked for their business, you are more likely to stick with that goal.  Essentially, mom-guilting yourself is a super effective method of achieving your goal. 🙂  You can read more about this here.  

…And maybe a friend to point out that you’re eating Taco Bell for the third time this week….

3.  Create Accountability

If your goal is to eat better and no one knows about it but you, how guilty will you feel when you find yourself three Timbits into a 10-pack you intended to share with the office but got your hangry little mittons on in the car on the way to work?  Or when you give up on creating your website because you couldn’t figure out how to change the god-awful font in the template?  Maybe a little guilty, but not super guilty because no one knows to razz you about it.  

Talking about your goals with friends, family, and colleagues helps keep you accountable.  Joining a support group is even better!  Setting a time-frame in which to achieve your goal can also help!  

Another way to help foster accountability to is keep a log.  Did you resolve to read three books a month?  Write them down!  You wanted to run 10 miles a week?  Write that down, too!  When you can see it, the sense of accomplishment is greater and the reality of when you slack off is also more apparent.  You can no longer tell yourself that you only missed one day at the gym when your log clearly says you skipped three.  

How much to write three pages of my website?

4.  Incentivize Yourself with Money 

This study found that people who were financially incentivized to lose weight lost 14 more pounds than those who were not.  So, essentially, when you get money for achieving your goals or when you lose money for not achieving them, you are more motivated to get the work done.  Health insurance companies do this by holding customers accountable to achieve health goals in order to keep a discounted rate.  So, maybe you put together a group of friends who are all trying to achieve goals this year and develop a weekly fund that pays out to achievers and is funded by those who did not achieve their goals.  

Turn your obstacles into adventures!

5.  Inform Yourself

When we encounter setbacks in our goals, that is when we tend to give up.  Maybe you are trying to put together your portfolio this year and you just can’t get a photographer to respond to your messages?  That’s discouraging and you may be tempted to throw in the towel.  But don’t!  They key is to re-defining these setbacks not as roadblocks, but as opportunities to change your approach and try again.  This article by Michele Solis explains how to do this by increasing your feelings of control and making use of your frustration:

Increase your feelings of control

  • Take a stance of actively learning about the process of reaching your goal. Every setback is educational and will help you learn how to succeed.
  • See the journey to your goal as an adventure. Any setbacks are interesting twists in the plot rather than damning verdicts on your abilities.
  • Reexamine your actions to find things you might have done differently.
  • Look at the chance to try again as a gift.
  • View persistence as a choice rather than a personality trait.
  • Seek specific critical feedback. Detailed information can help you focus on what needs to change.

Make Use of Your Frustration

  • Let it fuel your focus. Use it to draw your attention to what can be done differently next time. Doing so will help you see setbacks as valuable information.
  • Look at the frustration as a healthy sign of caring about your goal.
  • Consider the flip side. If you are not frustrated, maybe you do not care enough about the goal or you are looking for an excuse not to reach it. Figure out what you really want.
  • Do not beat yourself up. Blaming yourself and feeling inadequate may prevent you from figuring out what to change on your next attempt.
  • Decrease stress in general. People have a harder time coping with emotions when they are stressed out.
Don’t let that minor slip up derail all of your motivation and progress.

6.  Be Flexible

It’s ok to give yourself a break and be flexible with your goal.  Being too rigid can make your goal seem unachievable.  Perhaps it would be more attainable if you adjusted the timeframe, made the conditions a little more lenient, or broke it into even smaller goals? 

However, there is a difference between allowing yourself a hiccup in the plan or adjustments to your original goal and rationalizing that you will do something you know you’re not going to do.  Letting yourself have a cheat meal once a week is different than eating a whole pizza and telling yourself you’ll just work it off tomorrow.  You won’t.  You know it, so don’t lie to yourself.  Just adjust your goal to be more manageable.  

What are your New Years’ Resolutions?  Let us know in the comments!

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