The past couple of years have been hectic, to say the least. We started this year chaotic, confused, and just trying to navigate this new normal. Last year, resolutions weren’t exactly top of mind as we rang in the new year. Even without a worldwide pandemic though, New Year’s resolutions can be daunting. Are you tired of setting resolutions that fizzle out by March? We’re here to help! Here are seven steps to help you choose, and stick to, your New Year’s resolution:
1. One step at a time
As the pop-artist Jordan Sparks said in her 2009 hit, “one step at a time, there’s no need to rush.” New Year’s resolutions don’t need to be some huge, drastic change that must be implemented as soon as dawn breaks on January 1st. Let the confetti fall to the floor and recover from all that celebratory bubbly, first. Then, find a quiet, peaceful space so you can really sit-back and consider what this goal will look like and what steps it will take to achieve it. Ask yourself:
- How will reaching this goal impact my life?
- What resources do I need to achieve it?
- How much time will I need to dedicate to achieve it?
- What mindset do I need to be in to achieve it?
- How will you hold myself accountable?
- How will working towards this goal change my current schedule and habits?
- Why is it important that I reach this goal?
After asking yourself these questions, summarize your answers into a written mission statement so your resolution is literally right in front of you. This will help it seem more tangible and concrete. Hang it somewhere like your mirror or your refrigerator door, where you’ll see it every day.
2. Map it out
Did you know one year equates to 8,760 hours? Better use those hours wisely. Instead of settling on a big-picture New Year’s resolution, which can seem intimidating and unattainable, think of your life in terms of months, or even weeks. Map out micro-goals to hit each month or week that will help you reach your resolution. Get a journal, or a calendar, and start to map out your plans. Identify changes you can make each month, or even each week, and how they will help you reach your resolution. You might have one large overarching goal you hope to achieve this year but taking that resolution and breaking it into micro-goals will make the idea of reaching it seem more realistic.
Here's an example of what we mean: Say you want to start cooking and eating healthier, plant-based meals. For the first month of the year set a micro-goal of researching plant-based recipes and picking ones that sound appetizing, then outlining monthly or weekly meal plans. Then, for the next month, begin by cooking two or three of those healthy meals per week, after that move your goal to four meals per week, and so on. Setting smaller goals will lead to success on larger levels over time.
3. Make it fun
One of the main reasons people don’t stick with their New Year’s resolutions is because they don’t find a way to make it enjoyable. Whatever you want to change in your life, think of ways to implement these changes in a way that you find exciting and fun. Want to start working out more but don’t love lifting weights at the gym? Think of less conventional ways to move your body: Sign up for a dance class or find a scenic hike near you. Want to break a bad habit? Think of fun, new hobbies that you can start to replace your old ones. If the process of reaching your resolution is enjoyable, it will be sustainable.
4. Treat yourself
Many of our New Year’s resolutions are ones that don’t provide instant gratification -- you mean to tell me 20 crunches for a week won’t give me rock-hard abs?! Yeah, it’s a bummer, we know. So, help yourself out by providing yourself with incentives for a job well done. Think of something that could act as a reward after you’ve completed a goal or a task that is part of your resolution. Make sure this reward benefits you and coincides with how you want your life to advance with your resolution. You can even set up a timeline for the reward. For example, every week you spend advancing toward your resolution, reward yourself by buying those new sneakers you’ve been eyeing, eating at your favorite restaurant, or by just having a low-key relaxing day at home. This way, you have something to look forward to.
5. Don’t set unrealistic expectations
It’s easy to get ahead of yourself when building New Year’s resolutions, but it’s important not to set your expectations too high. You won’t learn your new skill or change your old habit in the blink of an eye. On average, it takes over two months for a new behavior to become instinctive and six months or more to learn a new skill. And it’s important to be realistic when choosing a goal. You might want to become a professional ice skater, but unless you’ve had years of training, you’d be more well-suited to choose a goal like, “learn how to ice skate well” or “learn how to master a Lutz.”
6. Go easy on yourself
When creating a new habit, many people are hard on themselves if they have a setback. Setbacks are normal and what make us human! Instead of beating yourself up and moping over what could have been, view your setbacks as lessons. Consistency -- NOT perfection -- is key. Remember that the road to creating new habits is usually not linear, so setbacks are a part of the journey. What’s important is that you move forward and continue to work towards your goal. Slow and steady wins the race, keep your eyes on the prize.
We hope these steps help you in reaching your New Year’s resolutions for 2022 -- Happy New Year!