Whether 2019 was the best year of your life, or you couldn’t wait for it to be over, there’s a sense of having a fresh start on Jan. 1 that we all hold onto. The new year is a time of new beginnings; it’s an opportunity to reflect on your achievements over the past 12 months and decide what you want to accomplish next.
We make notes, either mentally or on paper, of the New Year’s resolutions we are determined to carry out in the next 365 days. And usually for the first few weeks, or maybe even months, we’re pretty good at sticking to them: we only eat out on the weekends, we finally pick up that guitar we’ve been wanting to learn, we commit to going to the gym three times a week.
Yet, all too often, we stumble over the first steps of change and quietly retreat to old, unhealthy habits and lose sight of healthier behaviors we want to create.
Why not determine for this year to be different? For it to be the year that you stick to your goals? With a few helpful tips, you’ll find it’s easier to do than you might think:
Be specific. Simply saying “I want to work out more” or “I want to eat out less” isn’t enough if you want to stick to your new year’s goals. Vague end-goals won’t get you where you want to be. Instead, determine a clear, quantitative goal. That way, you can measure your progress and know when you’ve achieved your desired outcome.
Take baby steps. Change doesn’t happen all at once. So within each goal, set mini milestones that show your progress. Alternatively, don’t force yourself to jump into a lofty goal all at once. If your end goal is to go to the gym five times a week, start by going two or three times, and building from there.
Don’t do too much at once. It’s easy for us to look at all the areas in our life that we want to change, and setting multiple resolutions accordingly. But if you put too much on your plate, the chances of not achieving even one of your goals will drastically increase. Instead, set your mind to one main goal and stick to it. If you feel that you’re steadily working towards that goal, feel free to add another one. It’s better to set one goal and reach it than multiple that you give up halfway through the year.
Write down your goals, and review them periodically. Simply saying your goals out loud isn’t enough. If you really want to enlist change in 2020, then take your resolutions (and yourself) seriously and specifically write out what you wish to change or accomplish. Be sure to review what you’ve written down every month to see how far you’ve come. Writing down and reviewing goals adds intentionality to your resolutions and increases the likelihood of sticking to them for the long run.
Recruit friends and family. It’s so much easier to stick to a goal if you have support. And chances are you share a resolution with at least one or two friends in your life. Get a support group together and help each other stay accountable throughout the new year.
Cut yourself some slack. On average it takes a month to break a habit, and three times as long to form one. If you didn’t make it to the gym three times this week like you wanted to, don’t beat yourself up. Life is busy, and change is hard to come by. Get back on track and be kind to yourself along the way.
If you’re looking back at 2019 and find yourself harping on all that you didn’t accomplish (as human beings are so quick to do) then stop everything you’re doing. Breathe. Pull out a pen and a piece of paper, and write down everything that you did this year. Chances are, it’s more than you’re giving yourself credit for.
Here’s to progress, and not perfection, in the new year.