Entering a new year, many people set New Year resolutions. The tricky bit is actually sticking to them. Let’s take a really common resolution, “This year, I am going to join a gym and get in shape”. That’s a great intention and, according to IHRSA figures, 12% of all gym sign-ups do actually happen in January – which is proportionally more than any other month. However, intention and action are not the same thing, and this is also reflected by the stats. For example. according to the International Health, Racquet & Sports Club Association, 50% of all new health club members quit within the first six months of signing up. So, if you are setting a new year resolution, let’s make sure it actually happens and that it’s not just an intention! Here are some tips to help you.
Instead of selecting a general goal, you need to make it very specific. Let’s take another common resolution, “I want to be wealthier.” Well, If I give you €20 that you don’t expect this year, theoretically you would be wealthier, right? Mm not exactly what you might have in mind though. You need to give your brain something concrete and specific to work with. The question is, how will you know you are wealthier, as in what’s the figure you want to be at and what will you be doing when you get there? Then you can create a measurable plan, chunk it down into manageable steps, and execute each step, so it becomes a reality.
Choose 1 thing and make it doable.
Taking on too much all at once can be daunting and cause you to give up. I understand there’s a superhuman social thing going on, that everyone should be a busy perfect person, but it’s not realistic and nobody is. Pick one goal at a time and fully focus on achieving it. Make sure to create the behaviours and habits you need to make it maintainable. Achieving one small goal can boost your confidence, so consider breaking the large goal into manageable chunks to work on one at a time. Focusing on just one behaviour at a time has been shown to be more productive and is more likely to lead to long-term success, which is ultimately what you want.
Put Time into Planning
Don’t just pick a random goal and go at it without any direction. Once you’ve defined your goal specifically, create a written step-by-step plan. It will help you achieve your goals more easily. For one thing, it allows you to measure progress and refine where needed. It also allows you to consider what tactics, strategies, and resources you could use if you’re faced with challenges or obstacles. You can identify supports, skills, and resources that you may need along the way in advance and this prevents slips or going off track. A plan is a path toward making your resolution a reality.
If you start working toward a goal without any type of plan in place, you may quickly find yourself giving up when faced with an obstacle or setback. You don’t want anything to deter you from achieving your goal so think ahead. Considering a resolution mentioned above, if health is your goal and something happens to get in the way, how will you adjust to make sure you can still be healthy? For example, one of my weekly goals is to make sure I stay active because it gives me focus and clarity. Then lockdown happened. I adjusted my routine, using knowledge I had gathered about health. Instead of doing nothing, I got myself a rebounder (mini-trampoline) that allowed me to exercise in a quicker amount of time from home. So, what can you do and have in place going forward to make sure ostacles don’t become an issue? Do you need to gather knowledge, find more resources etc. This forward-thinking approach applies to all goals, so make sure to look at your “toolbox” to ensure you stay on track.
Write it down
Writing down your goal makes it more likely that you will do it. Research has shown this time and time again. Make a list of action steps you’ll need to do to achieve that goal. Then note any obstacles that might get in your way. This step is not about being negative, it is about empowering yourself for resilience. You’ll be better prepared to stick to your resolution and overcome anything that might side-track you.
Start With Small Steps
Everything that works well in life involves balance, and so it applies to your resolutions. Your brain does not like extremes of any kind, so work with that, not against it. While it may seem like a good idea to overhaul or go full throttle on day one, it is not likely to be maintainable. Small incremental changes make it easier to stick to your new habits and increases the likelihood of long-term success.
Create a “New” New Year Resolution.
If you have tried and failed to achieve your goal in the past, you may not believe you can actually achieve your goal because the past tells you otherwise. Get off the hamster wheel and approach your goals differently. Do not keep setting the same resolution, if the approach is one of remembered past failure. As Henry Ford said, “Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t, you are right.”
Consider adapting your goal to something you can manage and build on that. Change is a process, not a flip-switch. Spend some time evaluating your previous results. Which strategies were the most effective? Which were the least effective? What has prevented you from keeping your resolutions? Be patient with yourself. Understand that even if you have a hiccup don’t linger on it, you can restart and continue on your journey towards your goal. It may take longer than you would like to achieve your goals, but your only competition is yourself. It’s not a race. Once you have made the commitment to your goals, it may be something that you continue to work on for some time and that is okay, as long as you have momentum and keep going.
Yes, you’ve probably heard this advice a million times, but that is because accountability and support work. Get a like-minded buddy, a mentor, a support group or club, etc. It will keep you motivated and encourage you to keep moving forward. You’re not a robot, everyone has days they don’t feel 100% motivated, so have a support structure in place for times you might need a push. Be open to support and feedback.
Keep Motivation Alive
During the first few days of a New Year’s resolution, you will probably feel excited, passionate and highly motivated to reach your goal. That’s because you haven’t faced any discomfort that may be involved in achieving the goal. It’s easier to think about doing something than actually doing it. For example, stopping smoking is easy to think about but you might face the discomfort of nicotine withdrawal and habit change. Getting fit is easy to think about, but it might involve an early start. That said, you need to refresh motivation often, so your brain feels pleasure not pain.
- Remind yourself exactly why you are doing this. Write down your why.
- Write a list of what you will gain by achieving your goal.
- Find sources of inspiration that can keep you on track.
- Talk through obstacles with an accountability partner.
- Eliminate distractions and temptations that get in the way of your goals.
- Do visualization techniques to remind you of what the achievement of your goal will look like.
- Set notification reminders on your phone to remain focused.
- Be kind to yourself and allow a reset.
- Think about your goal as you exercise and spend time outdoors. This has been shown to give clarity.
- Set rewards for meeting targets and celebrate their achievement. It is so important to celebrate every win as your brain will encourage you to achieve more.
I am happy to help keep you focused. You can download my free ebook here https://donnakennedy.com/#ebook to get started or check out my membership club, where I will send you personal focus videos every week, you will get access to my Self-Discovery video library and you will get exclusive access to live webinars on expert topics during the coming year. See https://www.donnakennedy.com/join-donnas-club/