Just because coming up with resolutions has become a cliché thing to do on New Year’s Eve doesn’t mean they have to become fleeting thoughts as soon as the ball drops. It’s easy to become idealistic when surrounded with friends and family who also have high hopes and expectations for the upcoming year. But then January 1st hits and reality sets in. Old habits die hard – “I’ll start tomorrow” becomes the status quo.
However, resolutions aren’t the culprits for the frustration and the “why even try” mentality that goes hand in hand with abandoned goals. Instead, our lack of direction and the vagueness of these resolutions are what really lead to burn out. Give yourself and your friends something new to cheer to this year – six resolutions that you won’t regret making.
1. I WILL take TIME to think about what my top resolutions will be
We all get our inspiration and motivation for changing from different things – and some of us get the most satisfaction out of resolving to do something on the spot (so New Year’s Eve seems like an opportune time). Unfortunately, fast decisions don’t always stick since the newness and excitement quickly dies out – and if you don’t have a thought out plan to fall back on – you won’t be prepared to face the challenges, hard work and occasional sacrifices that lie ahead. Which leads us to the second essential resolution for this year.
2. I WILL have a SPECIFIC end goal in mind when coming up with resolutions
It can be easy to rattle off a list of vague goals that you hope to achieve like “I will eat fewer sweets” or “I will work out more.” The reality is that these generalized goals are hard to act upon since they are so vague. It would be a bit like like deciding “I am going to save up for a road trip” but not specifying where you want to go, which naturally makes it hard to determine how much you need to save in order to take that trip. Without any specifications and concrete guidelines to base your goals on – your resolutions will only be good intentions.
3. I WILL make goals that are realistic and reasonable
Idealistically, all of us imagine taking the cold turkey approach to changing our habits and lifestyles overnight. Unfortunately, it’s quite a bit harder in real life. Habits of all sorts take at least 28 days to break or make before you (and your body) get used to the new routine. Make sure you build goals that are healthy and safe, and that don’t leave you feeling deprived or frustrated. Setting the bar too high can lead to quitting your goal altogether. Even too much exercise can be harmful to your body and it can leave you too tired to regularly work out Leaving a little room in your diet for things you enjoy can help make your goals more attainable. Finding the balance between your discipline level and the results you want for yourself is key to a sustainable plan of action.
4. I WILL create a PLAN OF ATTACK for how I will achieve my resolutions
It can be overwhelming to try to change everything at once – it’s much better to plan out what you need to do each day and for how long in order to achieve your goals in time. For example – if you’re taking a road trip – you’d first have to plan out where you want to go, when you want to go and what you want to do in order to determine how much you need to save. Then you can further break it down into the amount you need to save each week. The same applies to resolutions – once you have a big picture of what you hope to achieve by a certain time – you can break it down into realistic daily goals that become part of your routine.
5. I WILL have a BACKUP PLAN for WHEN I encounter setbacks
Life is unpredictable and at times things outside your control (or momentarily giving into an old habit) may interfere with your ability to meet your goal for the day. This is when attitude is key to your success of getting back on track. For example – if you get lost during your road trip – you could get mad at yourself and put a damper on the rest of your trip OR step up to the challenge of finding your way and make the most of the memories you’re making. Acknowledging that setbacks are likely (if not expected) whether you’re setting out on a road trip or are trying to achieve another goal will help you become more resilient and bounce back faster. Dwelling on mistakes and punishing yourself makes it hard to move on. It’s much more productive to assess what went wrong and what you need to do to get back on track and then give yourself permission to let it go and press on!
6. I WILL track my PROGRESS
This last step demonstrates why the other four resolutions are essential. It’s impossible to track your progress without specific, measureable goals and a plan of attack for achieving these goals. And tracking your progress will help keep you accountable for recovering from setbacks. Looking back on how much you achieved -even with occasional setbacks- will give you the morale to keep going. We get burnt out on resolutions before we even start because we try to skip to this step seeking instantaneous results when we don’t have realistic and specific goals in place to guide and measure results against.
Make 2012 a year to remember by setting yourself up for success by committing to these six resolutions. Give yourself results – not just wishful thinking – to cheer about next New Year’s Eve!