Every January, about 40 percent of all Americans vow to change one thing or another about their life. These New Year resolutions usually fall under the following categories:
- Wellness – Weight loss, nutrition, fitness, etc.
- Finance – Money, career, business, etc.
- Personal development – Stress management, time management, skill development
- Personal relationships – Romance, family, friends, colleagues
Fast forward to June and 60 percent of those Americans will have completely forgotten all about their resolutions. You don’t want to be part of the 60 percent, do you? Here are some ideas to help you stick to your guns and accomplish what you want to accomplish this year.
Idea 1: Define your Motivation
There are two types of motivation:
- Intrinsic – Motivation coming from the inside. For example, you prefer jogging, going to the gym, or shopping for yourself because you like how you feel afterward.
- Extrinsic – Motivation coming from actions outside your personal scope. In other words, you prefer working out with your friends, and work harder when there’s a reward system in place.
Identify which motivation type is behind the goal or resolution you have. Then you can put into the place the correct types of rewards or benefits—the carrots at the end of the sticks—that will propel you toward your goal.
For example, one of my goals for 2019 is to get new front teeth. What is my motivation behind this? Well, I really want to be able to eat like a normal persona again. I’m tired of eating everything—hamburgers, pizza, steak, chicken, etc.—with a knife and fork. What propels me forward are all the rewards I perceive go with having my new teeth: A nice smile, being able to bite into food, being able to eat more healthfully. The reward my husband and I have agreed on is going out to Outback Steakhouse for dinner once my teeth are in an healed. That’s where we went on our first date and he hasn’t wanted to go back until I could fully enjoy the meal, as well. I can tell you, I look longingly at that restaurant every time we drive by!
Idea 2: Take Action
Have a goal is one thing, but taking the actions to achieve that goal is something else entirely. If you want to stick to your resolutions, it’s wise to break down the journey into smaller, more easily achievable goals or milestones.
Moreover, each time you achieve one, reward yourself and feel proud—and grateful—of what you’ve accomplished. Positive reinforcement is crucial to help guide you as you push toward your goal and commit to your responsibilities.
One way to keep everything in check is to make sure your actions are SMART:
- Specific: Having a specific end result prevents you from making excuses.
- Measurable: Evaluating your progress will give your motivation a boost.
- Achievable: You can set daily goals as a building block to bigger goals.
- Relevant: Does this task or action move you closer to your overall goal?
- Time-bound: Goals need to have a defined end date.
Continuing with my example above, what milestones do I need to reach in order to have my pretty new smile? Here are my initial thoughts:
Step 1: The periodontist needs $5150 to put in the implants and install the temporary crowns and bridge. So my goal is to manifest/attract/earn that money by March. Here is a smart goal the will move me toward that goal: Enroll one client into my book writing program by the end of February.
Step 2: The dentist is estimating $6000 to install the permanent crowns and bridge. So my goal is to manifest/attract/earn that money by May. Here is a smart goal the will move me toward that goal: Enroll another client into my book writing program by the end of March.
Idea 3: Be Honest with yourself
The more realistic your goals or resolutions are, the more likely you’ll see them through. If your goal for the New Year is to exercise more, then start small. Instead of planning a 5-day workout week, go for 20 minutes a day then increase gradually. 20 minutes too much? Try 10 minutes! 5 days a week too much? Try 3 days a week! Make your baby steps small enough that you can accomplish them but big enough to be a little bit of a stretch.
You’ll find that, as with all goals, as soon as you start seeing what you’ve accomplished, you’ll be pumped to do even more. However, it’s crucial that you stay away from the “all-or-nothing” approach. Doing something, even if it’s a small piece of what you’d originally planned, is much better and more productive than doing nothing at all. Like I often say, reach for the stars and if you only get to the planets, that pretty darn good!
Another thing to consider: Don’t have too many resolutions up in the air at once. Make a list, prioritize them, and go from there. Once you feel the first ones in the bag, go for the second, and so on. Focusing on one goal at a time will channel your energy and efforts there, helping you reach your target faster.
For example, last two years I tried to focus on five goal areas for the year. However, I found that I really only made progress toward two or three at a time. So this year, I’m trying something different. I’ve chosen a word for the year, and each month I’m choosing three areas in which I’d like to embody that word for that month.
Idea 4: Think things through
Things don’t always go according to plan. Life happens. Accidents happen. New opportunities show up. So, you need to anticipate obstacles, so you create plans for overcoming them if they happen. Also, you need to be flexible enough to make course corrections along your journey. Here are some examples of what I’m talking about.
- Your goal is to exercise more, but you know that you often get bored when you exercise. So, create ways to make exercise more fun. Plan upbeat music. Switch out workout DVD. Play WiiFit. Exercise with friends. Decide on some strategies that will get you past that boredom.
- Your goal is to learn Spanish, but you often get frustrated when you don’t increase your vocabulary quickly. So, find new ways to work on your vocabulary. Get flash cards. Post new words on PostIt notes around your house. Install a language app on your smartphone. Watch telenovelas and Spanish language news. One reason you might be having trouble with vocabulary is that you are trying to learn new words using a learning style that is not your natural way to learn. Switch things up until you find a learning modality that works with your natural learning style.
The idea is to nip resistance and blocks before they become stronger than your willpower.
Idea 5: Be accountable for your actions
Being accountable means taking responsibility for choices to act or not act. Sometimes this is easy because you have an externally determined deadline, like at work or with a client. Other times it can be a challenge because you have wiggle room—and you take it.
So how do you hold yourself accountable for taking actions toward your goal? Here are some ideas that might work for you:
- Get an accountability partner. This can be a family member or friend. You set up a schedule to report your progress at regular intervals to this partner. Be sure this person has your back. Their role isn’t to judge or punish you if you didn’t make your goal, but to mirror back your motivations and encourage you to get back on track when you get derailed. Sometimes just knowing you’ll have to report your progress will keep you on track.
- Join a support group. Sometimes you need people you don’t know as well to be your accountability partner. That’s the role support groups can play.
- Make your progress public. A friend of mine posts here weight loss miles stones on Facebook. You could decide to post your progress on social media. When I was in the hospital recovering from being hit by a car, posting my progress on Facebook provided me with a great deal of motivation and support.
- Use a habit tracker. Using a calendar, journal or pre-formatted habit journal, document your progress toward your goal.
Bonus Idea 6: Scrap resolutions and goals and go for an annual theme
Sometimes setting goals and resolutions simply sets you up for failure. My life is too chaotic right now for me to stay on track constantly toward a goal. Therefore, I chose a word of the year. The way this works is you evaluate your actions and decisions against this goal. For example, my word for 2019 is thriving. When I set goals or jot down my to-do list, I ask myself, “Will this action help me thrive?” If yes, woohoo! I go for it. If not, I figure out whether I need to let it go or tweak it so that it does.
Go forth and have an amazing year!
Keeping your New Year resolutions and goals can seem daunting at first. However, with these six ideas, you can do anything you put your mind to. And, once you accomplish your first goal, you’ll find that it’s not only beneficial, it’s fun as well!