How to Keep Your New Year’s Resolution
Happy New Year! The start of a New Year is always exciting – it is a fresh start, full of hope and determination. We are going to eat better, lose weight, spend our money more wisely. . . Most of us make grandiose New Year’s resolutions, determine to keep them and to attain whatever goal we have set for ourselves. It is easy to be excited at the beginning of the year.
Usually that only holds up for a week or two (maybe a month if we are extra dedicated in a particular year). So, discouraged, we go back to whatever habit we were trying to break or we leave whatever new practice we were trying to ingrain into ourselves. We are human, and sticking with things that differ from what we are used to is hard for most of us – but hard is not a synonym for impossible. Your mom might have told you when you were young that if you eat a food you dislike enough times, you will develop a taste for it. The same principle applies with keeping your New Year’s resolutions; if you keep it up long enough and develop a habit, you will do it almost automatically. It’s getting to the point that the new practice becomes a habit that is the difficult part.
Making Habits That Last
- Break it into manageable parts. If you want to cut out all sugar for non-medical reasons, that is pretty drastic step to take all at once, but if you say, “Okay, I can cut out cookies, cake, and soda,” you are much more likely to be able to keep that resolution. It isn’t that you can’t have really big goals, either; you just need them to be broken down into steps that you can handle. As you get comfortable with living without cookies, cake, and soda, you can then add ice-cream and candy and maybe even sugar in your coffee. When you take it a step at a time, it is much more palatable.
- Realize every step towards your goal is a victory. Say you want to start working out every evening for an hour. You make a resolution to do so – but one week into it you get home late and you really only have the time to work out for about twenty minutes. Does that mean you have failed because your resolution was for an entire hour? Of course not! You are working towards your goal, and you have to be able to give yourself some flexibility.
- Understand that one misstep doesn’t ruin your whole resolution. It’s easy to think, “Well, I told myself I wouldn’t have cookies, but I succumbed – what difference does it make now if I have two more?” However, a more beneficial way to handle it is to realize that one cookie is not going to ruin your resolution – and it’s certainly not going to ruin you. So lighten up and move on; the least helpful thing you can do to yourself is treat your one little misstep as a giant failure.
- Forgive yourself. This goes hand-in-hand with the last point. Cut yourself some slack! You are doing a good thing, trying to form new habits, and it isn’t going to come to you overnight (in most cases, at least). You are human, and you are not going to be perfect. And guess what? That is perfectly fine.
- Record your progress! Whether in a bullet journal, the notes on your smartphone, or just a sticky note on your fridge, remind yourself how far you have come! Celebrate it – it’s worth getting excited about. You are proactively taking steps towards something you want, and that is a victory in and of itself.
Move Forward With Confidence
Remember to give yourself flexibility You can accomplish great things, but it makes it extremely difficult if you beat up on yourself and don’t allow yourself some slack. You are human and perfection is not the goal: progress is. You may surprise yourself, too – you are capable of so much more than you think. Keeping your New Year’s resolution is more than feasible: it is fully within your reach. Go accomplish your goals this New Year!