There are two types of people in the world: those that attempt to make New Year’s resolutions and those that don’t even bother to try. As cliché as it is, the new year can be a new beginning and a fresh start, but only if you want it to be. We all have goals, hopes, and dreams that have yet to be achieved. Let’s be honest with ourselves. Each and every one of us could be doing more to further them.
The end of each year ends with the holiday season. You have fun, and you get to really relax knowing that everything slows down with you during that time. Use your vacation time to recharge and reflect on what’s truly important to you.
Come January 1st, get energized and get motivated to push yourself further in your goals, and make sure that this is the year that’s going to be the best year of your life so far.
Let’s dive in and discuss the kind of thinking and actions that you should have in place to keep your resolutions throughout the year, without resenting them, giving up, and letting another year go by where you could’ve, but didn’t.
1 – Set reasonable and sustainable goals
There is a reason why gym memberships soar in January, but 80% of the New Years resolutions crowds drop-off by the second week of February. For those quitters, their goals were either unreasonable, unsustainable, or both. Don’t set yourself up to fail, it will just disappoint you and increase the barrier between you and your goal. Positive thinking is paramount, and you need positive feedback along the way.
For example, if your goal is to run a marathon, it’s nonviable to sign up for one next month if the only exercise you routinely get is walking your dog. Or if your goal is to land your dream job, but you have nowhere near the appropriate experience, then this goal is unrealistic – at least for now. You can, however, make the goal of working towards gaining the necessary experience.
You know that you’re on the right track if your resolutions follow SMART Goal Setting principles: your goals are Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-bound. Your goals are sustainable if you can (honestly) see yourself carrying out these actions continuously throughout the year, without being affected by foreseeable situation changes like major life events, weather, family and work obligations, and time and financial constraints. Additionally, your health and mood should not be sacrificed.
2 – Break your goals into simple, specific behaviors
Goals that are too complex and vague don’t withstand much of a chance of sustaining the continued enthusiasm, action, and determination that it may need for completion. If you want to save X amount of money to invest by the date of Y, your goal needs to be broken down with a specific plan in place. Here’s a case study that demonstrates an effective example of how to achieve your goal.
Track your spending daily with a personal financial management app, and check daily. If you need, set reminders to glance at the app until it becomes a habit. Make automatic transfers to your savings account in increments that are realistic, sustainable, and just a little ambitious. Factor in your necessities like rent/mortgage, living expenses, and bills – and reduce your wiggle room for extraneous spending.
Cut down on certain spending habits that don’t make a big impact on your day. This is all about the compounded benefit of making small changes, and cementing those changes into your lifestyle. For example, make coffee at home during the week instead of buying. Save the coffee shop as an optional treat on the weekend – you’ll feel a sense of accomplishment and your weekend coffee will feel extra special. Buy the grocery products that are on sale, instead of buying the same brands that you usually do on autopilot.
It’s not realistic to cut out all entertainment and travel expenses. This will only make you miserable, leaving you with negative reactions to saving instead of the proud moments of accomplishment when you hit your goals. Instead of scrapping your fun purchases altogether, limit them and try to make them more economical.
When you go for a weekend getaway, go to the cheaper place and seek out free and cheap activities. Instead of buying a frivolous full priced item, buy something similar on sale that you know you will get more utility out of. Over time, your train of thought and actions should become habitual and routine. When you’ve gotten to the point where you don’t have to think about your decisions, you’re well on your way.
3 – Schedule it in
Whatever you use for your day-by-day scheduling whether online or in a physical planner, carve away time for furthering your resolution. Treat it as a commitment, the same way that you would any other commitment. It shouldn’t be shrugged off. If your goal is to get more exercise in, then make it easier for it to fit into your schedule. Bring workout clothes to work if you’ve planned to hit the gym afterward, or don’t bring your transportation card if that will force you to honor your commitment to jog home.
If your goal requires the commitment of a sizable amount of time set aside, like working on a side project or studying for a grad school exam, it can be helpful to carve out a recurring chunk of time. Saturday or Sunday morning can be a convenient time to sacrifice for your goal, and you can reward yourself with the rest of the day afterward.
Pencil in hard deadlines to your schedule and hold yourself accountable. When you’ve honored your commitment, celebrate these small milestones. This will help you maintain focus, a positive attitude, and (dare I say it?) it can be fun. Rewarding yourself after staying true to your schedule can encourage your mental stamina by focusing on the task at hand instead of becoming overwhelmed by your lofty goal in its entirety.
Sometimes it makes sense to use a buddy system for encouragement and holding each other accountable. Set a recurring time to meet with a friend that has the same or similar goal.
Good luck! Please respond below if you have any other tips that have worked for you 🙂
Seattle New Year’s Eve 2011 – Wikimedia Creative Commons
Guest Author Bio
Leeyen Rogers is the VP of Marketing at JotForm, a popular online form-building tool based in San Francisco. Originally from Boston, she loves the Bay Area and is happy to have escaped New England winters.
Blog / Website: www.jotform.com