Two weeks. That is how long the average New Year’s resolution lasts. For all of the huff people make of bettering themselves, most resolutions go bad before the Christmas leftovers. So why do even the most determined of achievers fail even seemingly simple goals, and what can you do to keep yours?
One of the most important things to keep in mind when making a resolution is to be ambitious but realistic. Setting a challenge for yourself is the only way to grow, but if you can’t even swim today, how can you expect to become an Olympian by next week? For example, say you want to eat healthier. Instead of going cold tofurkey into veganism and self-denial, try eating more vegetarian meals while still allowing yourself the occasional meat dish.
Even after setting a realistic and attainable goal, our resolution still has a critical flaw – it’s too vague. Without anything specific to hold yourself to, a resolution will easily slip away. Make sure to keep your goals clear and specific when making a resolution. To improve our healthy eating goal, we should make it something like: have every four out of five meals vegetarian. With no ambiguity in our plan, there is no way for us to wiggle out of it.
Once you get your New Year’s resolution figured out, you can finally start to do it. There really isn’t much advice to give for this step, but segmenting your tasks can be really beneficial. Figuring out what order you want to do things in really helps, as it gives you little mini-goals to strive for. One of the most important things is to not get too distraught if you are unable to meet a goal. Sometimes things outside of your control will get in your way and the only thing you can do is just accept it and continue from where you left off. Another thing to keep in mind is that it takes about 21 days for a habit to form, so until then you just have to keep pushing forward.
With all of that out of the way, we get to the hardest part of keeping a New Year’s resolution, staying motivated. There are many reasons someone might lose motivation, with one of the most common being that they are overwhelmed.
The best way to counteract this is to just take things slowly and to break up your goal into smaller parts. Going back to our healthy eating example, making mostly vegetarian food can be challenging when you have never had to before. Rather than immediately overwhelming yourself, try making two vegetarian meals one week then three the next, and so on until you reach your target. Breaking apart your objectives piece by piece is a great way to avoid being overwhelmed; the caveat being that you can’t break it up so much that you never get anything done.
Another, simpler reason people lose motivation is that they just don’t enjoy or care about their resolution. The most rewarding way to make your tasks more enjoyable is to, well, reward them. Rewards don’t have to be something physical either. Letting yourself feel accomplished after completing one goal or even mini-goal can be enough to drive you forward. The only restrictions to your rewards are that you can’t give them to yourself so often they lose their meaning and that they shouldn’t counteract your resolution.
Finally, the third common way people lose motivation is that there is no accountability to keep going. When you take on a burden alone, it is easy to lose focus and drift away from your desired goal. Inviting a friend or family member to help out is an amazing way to keep yourself motivated and on task. It is even better if you can find someone to share your resolution with, that way you can help each other when you need it. Eating healthy is a great example of this, as you and your family can take turns planning meals easing the burden on everybody.
Another way sharing a resolution helps is that doing things with friends is just more fun. Sharing ideas and working with your buddies is way more exciting than with your drab old parents, isn’t it? Sharing goals with someone you know also lets you get competitive over it which can make completing them much more enjoyable.