The beginning of a new year is a time for birth, growth, and renewal; a chance to make a fresh new start; a time for reflection – so why are most New Year’s Resolutions “pie crust” promises: easily made, easily broken?
You might have had good intentions, but then life gets in the way and your resolution gets forgotten. Then, when the next year rolls around, you already have in your mind that your past attempts have failed.
If you want to make a real change this year, you have to have a goal and a plan to make it work. This applies to any resolution, whether it’s to lose 20 pounds, quit smoking, eat a healthier diet, or make more money this year.
First, let’s look at some reasons why New Year’s Resolutions Fail:
- No plan of attack
- Unrealistic Goal
- Lack of clarity
- Allowing setbacks to derail you
- No accountability
- Too vague or broad
- Not having a strong enough reason to succeed
About 30% of all New Year’s Resolutions fail in the first month, and about half fail within six months.
So, what do you need to do to be in the successful half?
You need a plan. You’ve heard the saying, “If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.”
A resolution should be an attainable goal, not just a fleeting thought. If you want to make a change in your life this year, you can do it, but you have to really want to do it and have a strong plan to get there.
Here are 10 Tips for a Successful New Year’s Resolution:
- Get specific – You’ll have a much better chance at success with a specific goal.
“I want to start eating better,” or “I want to exercise more,” are too vague. How will you eat better, and what does exercise more mean to you?
Instead, have a specific goal like, “I will go to the gym 3 days a week, on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday after work” or better, “I will lose 2 inches in my thighs and 3 inches in my belly by June 1st.”
- Keep it realistic – If you make an unattainable resolution, you’re dooming yourself for failure. Make sure your resolution is something that you actually can and will do.
Making a goal to lose 50 pounds this year is pretty hefty. Start with something smaller like 10 pounds in the next three months. Once you reach that goal, then you can make a new goal for the next 10, and so on.
If you think you can get to the gym 5 days a week, that’s awesome, but if you know that you won’t, then choose a number you can stick with, like 2 days a week to start with.
Maybe you want to read 12 new books this year. If you’ve never done that before, maybe start with “I’ll read one book this month.” If you make your goal, great, keep going, but if it takes you 2 months, that’s okay. Make your goal to read 6 books this year, then increase it next year.
- Know your why – Your “why” is going to have to motivate you to get through all of the setbacks and slip ups. Believe me, there will be both. Your why must be big enough to blast through the adversity.
If your why isn’t big enough, keep asking yourself “why” until it is.
For example. You want to lose 30 pounds by summer. Why? So you’ll look better in a bathing suit. Why? So you’ll feel better about yourself. Why?… Keep asking yourself until your why is strong enough and important enough to you.
- Start with one –It’s tempting to try and change too many things at once, and far too overwhelming. You’ll have better success by starting with one goal. As you reach that goal, add another one.
- Break it Down – Break your big goal into smaller, bite sized chunks with timelines and milestones. Monitor your Progress as you reach each step towards your big goal.
- Reward Yourself –Set rewards for each milestone you reach. Make sure the reward doesn’t derail any progress. Instead of celebrating losing 5 pounds with a piece of chocolate cake, buy yourself a new workout outfit or have lunch with a friend.
- Understand your challenges and have a plan for when you relapse. This is big. You will face obstacles that with threaten to derail your plan. You may create some of those yourself. If you have a plan to overcome them, you can meet them head on.
- Stick with it. It’s easy to quit, especially if your goal is big and will take a while to get there, but you have a plan! Stick with it. Make sure you have a reward in mind for when you achieve your goal.
- Maintain Your Progress – Have a plan for after you reach your goal. If your goal is to lose 20 pounds, what will you do to keep it off after you’ve accomplished your goal. You’ll need a maintenance plan. Maybe you can have a cheat day now. There’s the 80/20 plan: stay on course 80% of the time but allow yourself 20% of downtime.
There’s nothing more disappointing than reaching your goal and then slowly slipping back into old habits and undoing all the good you did, but a maintenance plan with mini goals and milestone rewards will keep you on track.
- Get Support – Have a support system in place. You need a person who will hold you accountable and talk you down when you want to quit. Whether that person is your spouse, friend, or personal trainer.
It probably took years to get you to the point that you want to make a change, and you won’t get there overnight. Give yourself a reasonable timeline to achieve your goal. New behaviors take time to become habits, but in the end, it will be worth it.
Good Luck with Your New Year’s Resolution this year, and cheers to your success!