A new year often means new goals and plans. As the calendar ticks around, many people see it as an opportunity for a fresh start of sorts, and we’re no different. New Year’s resolutions are easy to make and just as easy to break, but we feel that there’s merit to making an effort. If you go to the trouble to make a resolution, the chances are it’s something that you’d like to change or achieve.
If you’re the kind of person that gives up on New Year’s resolutions too quickly, and you want that to change next year, the following tips were brought together with you in mind.
1. Don’t Set Your Sights Too High
While we don’t want to dull the excitement of a new year, the fact is that January 1st isn’t all that much different to December 31st. Indeed, while we assume a fair number of our readers will be hungover, it’s otherwise business as usual. If you feel you need to make sweeping changes, a paltry resolution might not be the way to go about it. Indeed, if it's not something you can stick to on the first day of the year, you’ll immediately lose motivation to keep it going for the rest of it.
Try to stick to things you do every day or at least things that you can measure the success of. If you resolve not to eat or drink something specific, you’ll know whether you’ve succeeded. You can make longer-term resolutions too, like learning a language or visiting a particular place. Just remember that the longer you leave it, the more chance there is for that burst of motivation to disappear.
2. Think About Why You Made a Resolution
If you make a resolution because you thought you should or without any real reason behind it, you’ll have nothing to encourage you if you falter. Most things are more difficult without drive and motivation and a New Year’s Resolution is no different. An underlying reason will make it so much easier to stick with your goals when the going gets tough.
3. Put Pen to Paper
While we’re on the subject of getting over bad habits, you can promise yourself all you like that you’ll remember your resolutions no matter what. Given that you’re reading this feature, there’s a chance you might be overconfident! If possible, write your resolutions down on a piece of paper, and leave it somewhere relevant. If your resolution involves eating better, display it in the kitchen. If you want to make more money, keep it on your desk. This will not only remind you of the resolution but also invoke the reasons behind it and motivate you.
4. Create an Action Plan
This tip varies in usefulness. If your goal is to give up chocolate – not that we recommend it – you either do it or you don’t. However, you can be braver with your resolutions and go for something more life-changing. If we return to the idea of learning a language, you can plan out apps to download, books to read and classes to attend. As with the creation of the resolution, you need to be realistic. If you have a spare hour each week, you’ll probably not be fluent before the next set of resolutions come around.
5. Be Accountable
If you need more of a guarantee that you’ll reach your goals, it is great to share your plans with someone close to you. They won’t hold it against you if you fail, but they’ll be there to check on your progress and take an interest if it seems like your interest wanes.
It doesn’t just need to be a friend or family member either. Millions of people are in the same boat with planning changes, and there may be groups both online and off that will provide all the support you need.
6. Change Your Surroundings to Promote Success
You won’t have the best chance of success if you don’t give yourself a fair opportunity. If possible, change your setup before the turn of the year. If not, do it as soon as possible afterwards. If your goal is to learn to drive, get your provisional licence or equivalent. If you want to set up a business, clear out the spare room and put a desk, chair and computer in there. You want your surroundings to be as conducive to achievement as possible.
7. Become Your Own Biggest Fan
We all have lazy days and can often be massive self critics, but this is such a significant change that it could become a New Year’s resolution in its own right. Positivity breeds results, and if you can overcome the missteps and celebrate the successes, you’ll look forward to further progress. This is where an action plan can come in handy, as you’ll know when milestones are met and can assess accordingly.
8. Aim for Small, Regular Steps
The phrase ‘slow and steady wins the race’ may have been run into the ground, but it can help with maintaining focus and keeping on the right track. Big leaps over the longer term are grand plans to have, but difficult to quantify. If you can break your resolution down into small chunks, each one is relatively easy to complete but they add up to significant changes and a step closer to success.
9. Mistakes Aren’t the End
We mentioned the failure mentality earlier. Fortunately, if your goal is to do something daily and you miss a day, it doesn’t have to be the end. As long as you can avoid feeling like you’ve missed one, so one more won’t hurt, you should allow yourself to be flexible enough to get back on track.
10. Don’t Feel Like You have to Start Right Away
You’ve got 365 days to achieve your goals, and one to spare if it’s a leap year. If your goal is long-term, don’t feel like you need to get to it on January 1st. Just don’t put it off for too long as you might find yourself never starting!