New beginnings always lead to a reflection on what is old and the decision to improve. Mondays are like a new start, moving in can be a kind of catharsis, because we clean the space and start with a “clean account” in a new place. What about the New Year? This is just an opportunity to start once again! It motivates us and gives us another chance to create a better version of ourselves.
That’s why we make New Year’s Resolutions – we promise to be better, to live healthier, to exercise more, to work harder. Months are passing by and many of these plans are forgotten.
Statistically, most of us stick to our New Year’s Resolutions for about three months. As early as in March we start to break them or even abandon them completely. So, is there anything we can do to make it different this year?
Sticking to your New Year’s Resolutions
Be precise but simple
It’s easier to abandon resolutions that are too general, vague or complicated. For instance, you can promise yourself you’ll eat less unhealthily, or spend less time on TV/social media. But exactly how much is “less”? How often can you indulge in grabbing a bite to eat from your fast food restaurant guilt-free? How much TV time would be “too much”? The same principle applies to all kind of resolutions: from improving your skills, taking up a new activity or spending time with your family.
If you want to prevent yourself from making excuses, it’s advisable to make a precise, specific promise, e.g. I will spend 1 hour daily doing xxx. In order to keep track and stay motivated, it’s a good practice to mark all the little successes in a calendar or journal.
Or at least write it down. Keeping your resolutions to ourselves might not be enough. If you share them with a friend, the decisions you make won’t be private anymore. That way, the pressure to live up to the expectations will be higher.
Some of our decisions might be very noble, but sticking to them might be too challenging or simply impossible in the course of the whole year. If you’re planning to “be nice to everyone”, “or never get angry anymore”, your chances of success are rather slim. It’s easy to promise yourself something like that in the spirit of New Year festivities, but there’s no way you can control your emotions all the time to that extent. Don’t promise yourself too much. Generally speaking, it’s better to set yourself a few small goals, instead of just a big one. It’s rather unlikely to “master a new language” within a year, but if you promise to learn bit by bit regularly, you will extend your knowledge by far by the end of the year. It’s also more realistic to stick to just one or two New Year’s Resolutions, instead of trying to do everything at once. Don’t demand too much from yourself at the very beginning, because you’ll be disappointed when you don’t see the effects.
Keep track of how it’s going.
You need to know whether you are standing still or if your efforts are bringing results. Try to write down every major step you make towards achieving your goal. By the end of the year you’ll be proud just looking at all the effort you took, and it will motivate you to keep up the good work. You can also think of some clever way to reward yourself each time you meet your goal. Perhaps treat yourself to something you enjoy doing?
Motivation is key
You need to know why you’re doing this and what you’re trying to achieve. If you’re finding it hard to stay motivated, look for inspiration. Sometimes the best source of motivation are people who have already achieved what you’re aiming for, or those who are striving for the same thing. Inspiration helps you get excited about your goals. And sometimes all you need is this extra power kick!
Don’t get discouraged
Don’t lose hope in moments of weakness. They will come for sure. There will be times when life will get in the way and you might not be able to meet your daily goal. That’s fine, provided it doesn’t happen too often. The important thing is not to forget the big picture. If you’re going to be too strict for yourself, chances are you’ll lose the enthusiasm and commitment. Guilt trips will only waste your time and energy taking you nowhere near your dreams.