Go on a diet, work out more, start an investment… The list of typical New Year’s resolutions is rather short, don’t you think? Yet, very few people actually manage to carry them out.
I suppose you can hardly blame them. Trying to be your healthiest and most successful self while making ends meet and taking care of a family isn’t exactly easy. (Try working out regularly when you have a day job, have kids to pick up from school, and are tasked with putting dinner on the table every night.)
But as a small percentage of the population shows, it isn’t impossible either. So, how do you join this elite group of people who manage to improve themselves year after year? It all boils down to one thing: you need to have a plan.
How? Read on and find out.
1. Pick just one goal.
It might be tempting to charge right into 2017 with a laundry list of resolutions, but it would be best to stick to one, or perhaps two at the most. Any more, and you run the risk of spreading yourself too thinly and not accomplishing any of them.
To determine the one goal you need to work on, think about you need in your life right now. If you suffered health problems in the past year, perhaps you should focus on getting fit. Should you consider getting engaged in the next year, make your resolution all about your relationships. And if you had financial problems, consider wiping out your debts and maybe working on other sources of income.
2. Make it specific.
Instead of making a vague statement like, “I want to be healthier this year” or “I want to be richer,” try writing (yes, you should write this down) goals like “I will lose ten pounds this year and maintain my ideal weight” or “I will increase my net worth by Php100k before the year ends.”
This way, you’ll have something more concrete to aim for, which brings up to step no. 3:
3. Track your progress.
You can never improve what you cannot measure. So, set some milestones for yourself.
Take note whenever you move significantly closer to your goal, Such as when you’ve lost a couple of pounds or when you’ve managed to put away Php20k into that savings account you promised not to touch. Not only will these steps allow you to monitor your progress, but they’ll also give you a sense of satisfaction when you realize how far you’ve come.
And that can only motivate you to keep striving for your goals.
4. Focus on progress rather than perfection.
Those bad habits you wish to erase probably took years to take hold, so getting rid of them or replacing them with good habits won’t happen overnight and that’s okay.
Expect that there will be slip-ups and setbacks, but don’t beat yourself up over it. Your resolve to keep a healthy diet might crumble at the sight of a moist chocolate cake and you might give in to the siren call of that midnight madness sale, but that’s part of the process. Rather than giving up and vowing to restart the diet or the savings plan tomorrow or next week, dust it off and keep going.
5. Start small.
Making too many severe changes is the reason why so many New Year’s resolutions fail. Drastically switching to celery sticks and oatmeal at breakfast when you’re used to a hearty plate of tapsilog or immediately cutting your daily expenses in half is a recipe for falling back on old habits faster than you can say “Happy New Year!”
Baby steps, on the other hand, make it a lot easier to get used to new, better habits, making you more likely to reach your larger goal.
For example, if your goal is to run your first marathon in the coming year, begin with going out for a 15-minute jog once or twice a week. Once it becomes easy for you to commit to that, you can escalate things a bit. Keep doing that, and before you know it, your goal will be well within reach.
6. Put it on your schedule.
No one ever finds time to do something unless they make time for it.
Rather than treating your resolutions as an afterthought, incorporate them into your daily life by blocking out time for them. Reserve an hour or two after work to do your workouts, take an entire day to finally declutter your closet, or allot an hour every Sunday to review your finances.
Consider each time block as an important appointment, much as how you would view a visit to the doctor, if you will.
7. Get support from friends and family.
There’s nothing like a solid support system to keep you motivated.
Whether it’s being your personal cheerleader or becoming your gym/accountability buddy, the support of those dearest to you can make all the difference in your efforts to change. So long as you explain your goals and sincerely ask for their help, you’re bound to find someone in your inner circle who will rise to the occasion.
Better yet, join a support group that shares the same goal. The sense of community and camaraderie will make the journey seem a lot shorter and the celebration at the end is sure to be multiplied by the number of people sharing it with you.
Resolutions might often be reserved for the New Year, but it’s always helpful to remember that you’ve got 364 other days with which to embark on any aspect of self-improvement. Bear in mind, too, that all the other tips mentioned above can apply to any other day of the year, should you require them.