The New Year is the chance to start over. “New year, new you” means ditching old habits and starting new ones, setting goals and intentions, and making commitments to improve and be the best that you can be. New Year’s resolutions can be difficult to maintain over time because the initial motivation to hit the ground running eventually fades away. Whether you’re looking to make personal or professional improvements, here’s how you can set goals for yourself and stick to them.
The Slow and Steady Approach
Pace yourself. Of course you’re excited to try something new and start seeing results. It’s great to feel motivated and want to take action! However, going in too fast could mean an early burnout. Think of it like running a race. If you start fast, you’ll lose momentum and slow down toward the end.
For the sake of commonality, let’s use going to the gym as our New Year’s resolution example since it’s one of the most popular resolutions. It might be tempting to go hard every day for a week, but by the end of week two, you’ll become exhausted and lose enthusiasm from doing the same thing over and over. Instead, start with 30 minutes a day a few times a week, and then slowly increase to 45 minutes every other day until you reach an hour workout session five days a week.
The Right Stuff
Having the right tools of the trade is instrumental to your eventual success. Are you committed to cooking dinner every night next year? Then purchase quality kitchen tools. Do you want to learn photography? Then invest in a good camera and photo editing software. Are you trying to get into shape? Then get a gym membership or exercise at home. A home gym is more convenient and affordable than a gym membership, and you don’t need cardio machines to have a home gym. You can start with simple equipment like dumbbells, kettlebells, a yoga mat, and resistance bands.
Develop a Habit
It takes an average of 66 days to make or break a habit. That means you’ll have to keep your momentum going into March. Can you really keep it up if you’re running yourself into the ground every day? If fitness is your goal, you’ll eventually develop a habit of working out by sticking to it regularly. It doesn’t need to be every day. It just needs to be often enough to become a routine. Once the habit has kicked in, you can scale it back; but don’t take off too many days between workouts.
Realistic Goals and Benchmarks
If you go into the New Year with a general goal to “lose weight” or “make money,” you won’t get very far. People who set clear, written goals are more likely to accomplish those goals. Your goal could be to hit a certain weight by June, have a certain dollar number in your savings account by the end of the quarter, or have a big project completed by October.
To avoid overwhelming yourself with what might seem impossible, set mini goals instead of a large one. Rather than trying to lose 20 pounds in four months, your goal could be to lose five pounds by the end of January (or one inch all around if you’re measuring instead of weighing). Realistic goals are easier to stick to because you’re more likely to throw in the towel if it feels impossible to achieve.
Celebrate Your Milestones
When you do reach those milestones, give yourself a pat on the back for them. Record it somewhere so you can see the physical results of your goal and reward yourself to keep the motivation going. It could help to look back on these benchmarks as reminders for how far you’ve come.
If you find yourself slipping, get right back on the horse. Failing to accomplish your goal by March doesn’t mean that you have to wait until the following year to start over again. A resolution can happen at anytime of the year, even starting now.