As this year winds down, you’ve probably started to think about how you’d like your life to improve in the New Year.
You may have already made grand declarations that 2015 is the year you are going to lose weight, eat healthier, and figure out how to manage stress more effectively.
These goals sound really good, and it’s easy to get really excited about the new life you’re going to have on the other side of the New Year’s countdown.
After all, who doesn’t want to live a healthier, more vibrant life?
And what better time than New Year to set the necessary changes in motion?
There’s a problem though, and it’s that New Year’s resolutions are notoriously unachievable.
Despite persistent annual declarations, the sad truth is that most of us don’t ever manage to make lasting changes.
We find ourselves in the same place year after year, hopeful that something will shift on January 1st that will magically enable us to finally get our acts together.
But then the days and weeks pass, life gets in the way, and old habits slowly creep back in. 12 months later we’re right back where we started.
This is disheartening, to say the least!
If you find yourself in this boat, it means that you’ve repeatedly broken promises to yourself.
And in addition to the immediate disappointment of failed endeavors, you’ve also reinforced a belief deep inside yourself that you are incapable of taking charge of your own health.
This belief is a huge detriment to your self-confidence, and what’s more, it’s simply not true.
You don’t have some hidden deficit inside of you that prevents you from reaching your goals, you’ve just been making the wrong New Year’s resolutions.
Here are 5 secrets to making New Year’s resolutions that stick.
Be Action Oriented
The #1 problem with New Year’s resolutions is that people focus on the outcome rather than the path. If you want to achieve your goals, you’ve got to make a plan for how you’re going to get there.
So instead of saying “This year I’m going to lose 5 pounds,” say “This year I will eat a big serving of vegetables for breakfast every day,” or “I’m going to go for a brisk 15 minute walk after lunch every day.”
You’re much more likely to succeed with small, attainable, action-oriented goals than you are with results-oriented ideations.
Set Time Limits
Another way to achieve your goals is to give yourself a time limit. While it may be tempting to imagine that your bad habits will easily melt away and good habits will effortlessly and permanently replace them, the truth is that it takes time to completely shift your lifestyle.
So instead of saying “I will never eat sugar again!” try cutting it out for 30 days and then see how you feel.
Setting time limits for your goal makes it much more manageable, and it’ll be much more likely that you stick it out to the end instead of giving up.
Write it Down
When you decide which changes you want to make in the New Year, write them in your calendar, set daily reminders on your phone and computer, and keep track of your accomplishments every day.
Scheduling your activities is the first step to making them happen, and keeping track of your accomplishments acts as positive reinforcement to keep you on the path toward achieving your goals.
In addition to the satisfaction of writing down your achievements, set up other forms of positive reinforcement to keep you motivated when things get tough.
For example, if you decide that you’d like to go for a 2-mile jog every morning for 20 days, promise yourself a new pair of running shoes at the end of those 20 days. Or if your goal is to meditate for 10 minutes every morning for a month, treat yourself to a special breakfast beverage afterwards so you have something to look forward to.
Giving yourself rewards for your hard work makes you feel even better about your achievements, and more likely to stick with your goals when you hit hurdles along the way.
Finally, you’re much more likely to reach your goals if you have support around you. If you can, find a reliable and motivated friend, or group of friends, and work toward your goals together.
With other people on your team you can hold each other accountable, and turn to each other when things get tough. Plus, working toward goals is a lot more fun when someone else is by your side!
To summarize, when you’re thinking about New Year’s resolutions for the coming year, taking baby steps, finding support, and rewarding yourself along the way will bring you closer to achieving your goals than lofty idealistic aspirations ever will.
You have to start small if you ever hope to reach your big dreams.