We’ve all heard of it before; it’s January 1st and everyone pledges to improve themselves in one way or another. People flock to the gyms, stores sell out of kale and kombucha, and non-fiction books fly off the shelves. This annual frenzy usually lasts about two weeks before people settle into their old habits. Well, not this year (fully acknowledging that every year is going to be the year to stick to it) because here is a list of things you can do to help you to actually stick to it and achieve your goals.
Don’t aim for the stars
In the long term, yes, everyone should aim for the stars, but for a New Year’s resolution, you should aim for something not quite so far out of reach. A new habit is much easier to stick to if it is something small, and if it is the only new habit you are trying to build at the moment. It is much easier to stick to, “I’m only going to have pizza once a month,” than, “I’m not going to have pizza all year.” If you go with the latter and accidentally snap and have a slice of pizza, you might feel like you have failed and give up on your resolution. In contrast, if you decided to more simply reduce your pizza consumption, if you accidentally have a slice one night, that will just count as your slice for the month and you’re still on track to stick to your goal!
Another example could be with the gym. If you decide you’re out of shape and want to start going to the gym, it might be smarter to aim to make it to the gym at least twice a week, rather than pledge to go six days a week. You’ll be more successful with the lower aiming goal because you’re less likely to fall behind on your schedule, get discouraged, and give up on your resolution all together. You’re all capable of amazing things, but you can’t do amazing things right out of the gate. You need to build up to them, and small New Year’s resolutions are a great way to do that.
Make Your Resolution Public
Tell everyone. Tell your friends, tell your family, tell the dining hall staff, tell the guy sitting next to you on the bus. If people know what you’re aiming for, you’ll feel more pressure to stick to it. When you feel you have to prove yourself capable to not only yourself, but to others as well, you’re likely to work harder. I notice this when I say I’m going to get up earlier. If my roommates agree to get up with me, then I am far more likely to get out of bed when my dreaded alarm goes off. If I’m the only one getting up at an ungodly hour, there is no chance I’m getting up. Maybe if I had a little more discipline I could do it, but making my aim public really gives me the little boost of discipline I need.
Choose only one resolution
This coincides with the first point, but is important enough to give it its own heading. Habits are hard to build. If they were easy to build, everyone would be living like Mark Wahlberg, getting up at 4:00 AM, working out, showering, and eating, all well before sunrise. Maybe you want to start journaling and meditating. Both those things require time out of your day and to allot half an hour to new habits all at once is pretty difficult to keep up with. You’d be better off building one habit, and once that’s fully settled as a regular part of your life, that’s when you can add the next habit you desire. That might be four months from now, or not until next New Year’s.
Don’t seek perfection
You will slip up on your resolution. There’s no way around it. We’re not perfect and therefore we shouldn’t seek perfection. You might just end up getting discouraged and quitting all together. If you’re gentle with yourself and not beat yourself up when you break your resolution briefly, you’re far more likely to just try harder next time, instead of throwing everything out the window in response to your “failure”.
Rope a friend into committing to a resolution with you
Similar to making your resolution public, you and a friend can hold each other accountable if you’re both trying to commit to a resolution. You can both share the same resolution, or not. What’s important is that you are both committed to your resolution and committed to helping your friend stay committed to theirs.
With that, good luck with your resolutions! This year is as good a year as any to make a change in your life. I hope you look forward to who you’ll become, and I hope you do too!