Often people make New Year’s resolutions to change specific aspects of their lives, starting out enthusiastically and with much hope, only to end up failing to reach their goal. The end of the matter turns out worse for them than the beginning. Their failure leaves them frustrated and disheartened, increasing their anxieties rather than alleviating them.
Why does this happen? – Because all too often these New Year’s resolutions focus on grandiose personality alterations, instead of achieving attainable lifestyle changes. Epic resolutions = epic failures.
So, how can you possibly make resolutions and keep them?
Consider sizing down the huge bite you’re wanting to take into something more digestible, and instead of aiming for monumental resolutions focus on setting realistic and reachable goals.
Select Your Goals
- Reflect on the past year – Review your strengths and weak points, your wise choices and mistakes, your achievements and your failures. Ask yourself what you would have liked to do different or better and what you would like to change about yourself.
- Write down your goals – Put into writing whatever comes to your mind that you would like to achieve over the year. Don’t over-analyze; just write it all down.
- Be realistic – Now look over your list and remove the goals that are absolutely unrealistic and, therefore, unreachable. Don’t set yourself up for failure by being impractical.
- Prioritize – Number your goals. Put them in order of easiest to hardest to attain, or most to least important to you, or shortest to longest time to achieve. Set your priorities for them.
Make a Plan
- Have a deadline for each goal – Begin making your plan by setting a deadline for each goal. Having a deadline will turn it into something real, not merely a dream.
- List the steps you need to take – Make a list of the steps for each goal, but keep the steps small and precise. Imagine what you have to do to reach your goal and see yourself go through each step.
- Expect and be ready for obstacles – Consider what the obstacles to reaching each of your goals can be and write them down. Think about ways to overcome these obstacles.
- Commit to the plan – When you have all of the steps thought out, make a written promise to yourself that you will do your best to keep to them. Sign the promise to finalize this commitment. It will help you to hold yourself to your plan.
Put Your Plan to Work
- Start at once – Don’t delay – there’s never a better time than the present, they say. Begin with your first goal and decide what you can do right away toward achieving this goal, even if it’s a very small thing.
- Review and track your goals – Look over your goals often to remind yourself of why they are important to you. Mark the ones you’ve reached with a check mark or the date you’ve completed them.
- Stay flexible – Ups and down are normal. Not everything will go exactly as you had planned, so be ready to make adjustments when needed. Don’t be too harsh on yourself. And don’t give up, but rather resolve to keep making progress.
- Show yourself some appreciation – Just like you would show it to any other person when you see them making a concerted effort to reach a worthwhile goal, you should show yourself the same kindness. Rewards are a great way to encourage yourself to keep going – from the small treat you give yourself for each step of the plan you’ve completed to the slightly bigger reward that you might let yourself have when you’ve reached one of your goals. It will be well deserved!