Let’s talk about these dreadful resolutions for a minute. We all make them. I mostly fail at them. We have such big plans and lofty goals and by January 29th, we’ve thrown them all out the window. We’ve doubled our wine intake, increased our spending habits, gossiped our way around the water cooler, and spit in the faces of those annoying gym rats. But why? Why don’t we follow through? I have some ideas.
Stop putting so much pressure on that stupid ball drop. Ok, it’s a new year. We totally understand the excitement of the idea of a reboot. It is refreshing to start January 1 with new hopes and dreams. But what is really different about January 1st and April 29th and June 2nd? Nothing, really. They are all brand new days. The sun comes up and the sun goes down just the same. Do you feel like making all these changes January 1, or do you just think this is the time you are supposed to feel like enacting change? Don’t pick this date because society says it’s a great time to set goals. Maybe January 1st is super depressing to you because it’s the middle of the winter and the magic of the holidays is now gone. Maybe you are completely exhausted from creating all that magic, and it’s not a great time to set all these goals for yourself! We invite you to think about what time of year will be the best time for you to set new goals that will allow for follow through. Maybe you need 30 days after the holidays to rest. Start the year in a time of respite if that sounds nice. Perhaps February 1st is a more plausible time to create new habits or leave unwanted ones behind. Let’s change the word resolution to something else if that ideology puts too much pressure on goal setting. Maybe it is a resolution dissolution. Let’s shake this whole thing up.
Ok. So you’ve picked whatever time of year is best for you to enact the change you seek. What are you wanting to do differently? What outcomes are you looking for? Here are some thoughts on how to set yourself up for success.
1. Get clear on the why behind your wants. Do you actually want to go to the gym, or is that just a typical thing you say you will do every year and it never lasts? Do you actually even like the gym? If going to the gym to workout is a happy and positive space for you, by all means! Add this back into your goal setting. But, think about what it was last year that created roadblocks to maintaining it. Try not to set the same goals that have been unsuccessful in the past. If you do enjoy the gym, what things need to change to make it easier to get there? Is it time constraints that hold you back? Motivation? Think through what you actually want to happen. Maybe you want to physically feel better, but you actually hate the gym! There are other ways to get your fitness on, friend. Do you like the gym but realistically know you don’t have time to get there? Workout at home. All you need is an app and a small amount of space to break a sweat. Why do you want to work out at all? Are you wanting to feel better, look better, or set a good example for your kids? Our point is, get clear in your head on what you actually want to happen and why. You’ll be more successful when your goals are more clearly defined.
2. Set realistic and attainable goals. “I am going to stop smoking cold turkey and go to the gym 6 times a week and stop watching so much tv and start reading books and be nicer to my coworkers and clean my house every day and start doing yoga.” Wellllll…. maybe! But chances are, we’ve made some goals for ourselves that are a bit too lofty. Start with one thing you would like to stop or start. Focus on one thing at a time. Break that one big goal into lots of smaller, more attainable goals. If we improve ourselves 1% every day, by the end of the month, we are 30% better.
3. Track your progress. When you break that one big goal into lots of smaller goals, write it down. Find a way to track progress either on a calendar, in a journal or on an app. Watching your successes pile up will create even more motivation. Let’s say you want to start reading more. That’s a pretty broad goal. Get more specific with what that looks like for you. Maybe the goal is, “I want to read 30 minutes a day.” Set aside those 30 minutes in your day and write it on your calendar. Check it off when you’ve accomplished it! That’s the best part! At the end of the week, go back and look at all those check marks! Whew! That feels nice. Don’t forget to get clear on why you want to read for 30 minutes a day. The why is super important to the success rate of the goal.
4. Find accountability. This goal setting is way more fun with a partner. But, be sure to choose a positive person for accountability, and not someone who steals your joy and calls you ugly. Someone who robs you of all your energy isn’t going to be your best pick. Find an accountability partner who lifts you up, encourages you, and leaves whatever space they are in better than how they found it. That’s your huckleberry. Don’t forget to reciprocate those characteristics; you are partners, afterall! Mirror that positivity and love and light.
5. 86 the perfectionism. Ain’t nobody perfect. You weren’t perfect last year, and I hate to break it to you, but you won’t be perfect this year either. Allow for hiccups and mistakes and redos. That’s the nature of the new habit game. It’s also the beautiful thing about change; you can always start again. If you fail one day, get up and succeed the next. The goal is to improve, not be perfect in it. Allow your humanness and be grateful for the chance to try, try again.
6. Make sure you are enjoying the process. If it sucks, you won’t do it. Double up on habits to make the new habit you want to form more enjoyable. Take something you already enjoy, and combine it with the new thing you struggle to accomplish. Maybe you want to spend 30 minutes on the treadmill each day. What is something you can do at the same time that you already look forward to? Don’t binge that Netflix series before bed when you could add it to your treadmill time and combine those activities to make the treadmill more enjoyable. Add some fun to the new activity to keep the motivation.
Maybe forget the whole dang thing and just enjoy your life. Be glad you wake up every morning and be glad when you get to put your head back on your pillow at night. No one said you needed improving, anyway. Maybe you feel just fine where you are! If so, we applaud it. Our goal is to feel good. If you feel good, high-five! If you don’t feel good, remember you can work to get there. Happy 2023, Friends! It will be what we make it!