It’s officially New Year’s resolution season and perhaps you have decided that this is the year to get in gear and improve an area of your life. According to Twitter Canada, most Canadians are making New Year’s resolutions to lose weight, eat better, and unplug from electronics. While these are great goals to have, they don’t mean much unless you actually do the work.
New Year’s resolutions are notoriously difficult to keep, the pressure of a new year leads us to make lofty goals and expect immediate change but often results in a recipe for failure. So to help you truly make 2017 the year of a positive change in your life, we wanted to share with you some tips on how to avoid the pitfalls of goal making and actually achieve your New Year’s resolutions.
Make this year the year you say, “I did it!”
Lofty goals are the enemy of achievement – make it specific!
If you find that you have been making goals of grandeur under the pressure of a new year, you are not alone. Drastic life changes may be motivating on January 1st, but without a specific plan and steps of accomplishment they will likely seem too daunting to do anything about during the following months.
Making goals without having a plan in place to execute them is the most common pitfall of keeping New Year’s resolutions. Avoid doing this by making much smaller monthly or even weekly goals that will keep you on track and eventually lead to your overall goal by the end of the year. For example, if you want to run a marathon by the end of 2017, make a weekly goal of running a certain number of times each week, each time slowly increasing the distance you run. If you want to eat healthier, take little steps in improving your diet such as eliminating a certain food like chips or soda, and replacing it with a healthier option each week.
By creating smaller goals, or stepping stones, while on your way to achieving your larger goal you create a sense of accomplishment for yourself along the way. This can be very encouraging and helps to break up a large goal into something that is a lot more manageable. As you keep improving on your smaller goals, you get one step closer to achieving your overall goal, all the while making progress towards a better you. Apply the same principle to any goal you may have and you will have a much greater chance of not only achieving your goal but actually making a life change that you can sustain.
A new year doesn’t change you – you do!
With the hype surrounding New Year’s Eve, it’s easy to think that as soon as the clock strikes twelve, a new you is born. But true change doesn’t happen like that. Much like waking up the day after your birthday and not feeling any older, January 1st will not make you a different person from the one you were a day before. Expecting change and actually working to make change are two very different things and only one will help you to achieve your goals.
Before you decide to make a New Year’s resolution make sure that you are willing to really put in the work and commit to making a change in your life. Making goals and NOT working to achieve them will only put a damper on your mood. There is no shame in deciding not to take on every goal at once. If you are making a resolution, be aware of the work that will have to go into it and commit to it every single day.
Make it fun!
In addition to breaking down your New Year’s resolution into more manageable bits, make those bits as fun as possible. This is an essential part of any resolution plan, make your goals something that are enjoyable to work towards. You will be much more willing to actually do the work needed to achieve your goals if you’re smiling along the way.
A great way to do this is to enlist a friend or family member to join you in your endeavours. This has proven to be the most effective tactic in keeping people on track with diet and exercise oriented goals. Having someone to motivate you and whom you can motivate right back gives you less of a chance to make excuses for not putting in the work. Other ways you can make your goal getting more fun are joining in on cooking classes if your diet is in need of a switch-up, exercising in a different spot around the city for a change of pace, or making your goal getting a competition amongst a group and seeing who can keep on track the best.
Goals and resolutions are not just for the new year
Often New Year’s Eve is met with so much hype that we feel pressured to make the first day of the new year a brand new start. And sometimes when we can’t begin working towards our goals at the beginning of the year, all plans for resolutions fly out the window. But it’s important to remember that your goals and resolutions do not necessarily need to begin on the first day of the first month of the new year. It’s okay to pick a time that is more realistic for yourself and when you can properly focus on achieving what you want. By allowing yourself to properly plan and work on your goal, you are setting yourself up for resolutions that will be more sustainable and will work with your own schedule. Just remember- once you have committed yourself to your goal, work to stay on track.
Setbacks are normal
With any goal achievement there are inevitable setbacks but don’t let these discourage you! Everyone has them, just adjust your plan of action so that you can achieve smaller goals. This way you won’t get as discouraged and will still make headway towards your goal.
Making a life change is a commitment and requires a lot of determination and patience. But if you are willing to make a change for the better, have a clear goal in mind, and a specific but fun plan of action, you’ll be on the road to success in no time.