2023 is practically here, and that means it's time to start thinking about New Year's resolutions. But if you're like most people, you probably have a love-hate relationship with resolutions. You love the idea of a clean slate and fresh start, but you hate how quickly your good intentions fall by the wayside.
If you're struggling to get motivated about setting goals for the new year, take heart. You're not alone. In fact, according to a study conducted by the University of Scranton, only 8% of people actually achieve their New Year's resolutions.
So what's the secret to making lasting change? How can you set resolutions that will improve your life instead of falling by the wayside like so many others? Read on for some expert tips.
But first, let's start with the basics:
Define what you want to change and set realistic goals
The idea of setting and achieving goals can be hugely empowering, but before you start the process, it’s important to set yourself up for success. That starts with asking the right questions such as: what do I want to change? Defining your goal clearly is essential because it provides direction and focus, allowing you to take informed steps towards achieving it. By taking some time to gain clarity early on in the process, you’re more likely to sustain motivation by making realistic goals that are far more likely to be accomplished. It also allows you to track your progress and celebrate when milestones are hit - which can help drive further momentum for continuing forward. Getting started on a journey toward something new doesn't happen overnight, so use this moment of determination as an opportunity to build from a solid foundation that works for you!
Make a plan of action that is specific and measurable
Making a specific plan of action can be a helpful way to create an organized path towards success. It's important to break down any large tasks into smaller, more manageable parts so they do not seem too overwhelming. Start by identifying the steps you need to take in order to reach your goal and then estimate how long each step should take. This will allow you to measure your progress as your journey forward. Once each step has been laid out, decide on timelines for when it needs to be completed. Be sure to keep track of milestones and check-ins with yourself as you work through the plan. Having accountability for yourself makes sticking with the plan much easier and creates motivation for reaching your desired outcome!
Set a deadline for yourself to achieve your goal
For those who have big goals, it can be daunting taking the necessary steps to make them into a reality. That's why it's important to set yourself deadlines so that you stay on track. Making promises to ourselves is one of the most powerful tools we have at our disposal for achieving success. Whenever possible, try to be realistic with your goal dates and break down the tasks you need to do on the way - this way you have small achievable objectives and will more likely achieve bigger ones. Setting goals takes us from functional plans into action, give yourself a deadline and watch what you are capable of!
Tell your friends and family about your resolutions to hold yourself accountable
Making resolutions can be tricky business; all too often we have the best intentions at heart, but end up wavering and disappointed when months later we still haven't quite reached our goal. To ensure your success and make you more accountable, let those closest to you in on your resolution secret. Whether it's friends or family, let them be there for you to remind you of your purpose when the going gets tough, and celebrate with you when you succeed. Having a support system cheering for us can give us a much needed boost of motivation which is exactly what we need when times get challenging to reach our goals. At the end of this journey, you'll thank yourself for enlisting some extra help along the way!
Write down your progress along the way to keep track of your success
When setting a goal for yourself, it's important to remember that progress is not usually made overnight. Knowing that can help alleviate the pressure of expecting immediate success and instead allow you to focus on each individual accomplishment along your journey. Writing down these wins, however small or large they may be, will help remind you of how far you have come and act as motivation for continued progress. Celebrate even the smallest successes - that way you will be able to clearly see all the work you have done and understand just how much closer these steps have brought you to achieving your overall goal!
Reward yourself when you reach milestones to stay motivated
Reaching milestones in any pursuit can be challenging and stressful. That’s why it’s so important to take a moment to reward yourself when you reach them. There is no one-size-fits-all recipe for what the reward should look like, only that it should be something that makes you happy or motivated. Maybe it’s a massage, an hour of quality time with your friends and family, or even simply doing something that brings you joy—reading a book, watching your favorite movie, or getting outside for some exercise. Whatever the case may be, taking time to recognize and appreciate your hard work will keep you more motivated and on the right track toward achieving your goals!
So what do the experts have to say?
When it comes to forming new habits, simpler is smarter. Taking small steps can lead you to success over time - like starting your day with a glass of water instead of committing yourself immediately to an ambitious routine such as running 3 miles a day.
"But at the same time, you don't want to pick a behavioral goal that is too easy, since that is unlikely to be challenging enough to hold your attention," said Dr. Jennifer Ashton, ABC News chief medical correspondent and author of "The Self Care Solution," a book about creating self-care habits that stick.
It's also important both for setting the right goal and staying on track: make sure each task is SMART (Specific, Measurable Achieveable, Relevant & Time-Bound)
For example, if your goal is simply to "run more" this wouldn't be considered a "SMART" goal. Instead, set an objective that is specific and achievable. Break down your overall dream into smaller milestones by tracking progress each day or week on an app, calendar etc. A "SMART" version of this goal might be -- "I want to run 3 days a week for 30 minutes"
Change can be tough, but if you go into it with a positive attitude and realistic expectations, you're much more likely to stick to your resolutions. And remember: set specific goals, make a plan of action, set a deadline, tell your friends and family about your plans, write down your progress, and reward yourself when you reach milestones. Good luck!