How many of us compile a long list of resolutions that will surely turn us into much better versions of our current selves only to crash and burn miserably around, oh, week two?
Trading old habits for new ones can be difficult and takes serious commitment, but if you learn what makes a successful resolution you’ll increase your chances of making it into February with your goals and motivation still intact.
1) Narrow your scope. If you try to take on too many changes, you’ll run the risk of wearing out long before you accomplish the first goal. Devote your energy to changing one thing and when you have a handle on that new habit, incorporate a new one.
2) Avoid repeating resolutions. Attempting (and failing) to fix the same stubborn habit year after year will weaken your belief that you can change at all. Try pursuing an old goal from a different angle or going after something else entirely.
3) Make S.M.A.R.T goals. Vague resolutions (like “lose weight” or “earn more money”) are doomed from the start. How much weight do you want to lose? By when? What will you do to increase your income? By how much? Goals that are specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and timely are more likely to stick so break down those lofty dreams into smaller steps you can take each day. This makes the resolution seem less daunting and within your reach. And while you’re at it, write your plan out and tack it up where you’ll see it each day.
4) Talk about your resolution. Telling your family and friends what you want to accomplish this year will not only keep you accountable (they’ll be sure to ask about your progress from time to time), but they can also serve as a support system and dish out positive reinforcement as you work towards your goal. Who doesn’t like a pat on the back for being awesome?
5) Monitor your actions. Friends might help keep you in line, but you’re the only one who can police your behavior 24/7. Make notes and keep track of changes pertaining to your goal and evaluate these frequently to trim away any detrimental habits.
6) Visualize your success and then turn it around. Imagine how great you’ll feel once you finally reach the finish line. Close your eyes and relish the moment when your resolution evolves from a goal to a simple part of your daily routine. If you need motivation to get you through a hurdle, think about what the consequences could be if you don’t accomplish your goal. How badly do you want this?
7) Have alternatives and a bounce-back plan. Rest assured, temptation will come, but how you respond to them will determine your success. If you’re trying to make better food choices, keep healthy-yet-yummy snacks nearby. If you cave, don’t waste time beating yourself up. Instead, jump right back in and reward yourself for not letting a simple slip-up completely throw you off course.
8) Practice patience and acknowledge progress. Sure, a slimmer figure will be a great treat, but that will come months from now. Rewarding yourself for hitting the gym three times each week will keep that fire going until you finally get to show off your accomplishment in the summer.