First of all I want to say congratulations on making it to the last day of the year, 365 baby! I hope to see you same time next year and in subsequent years.
Since New Year’s Eve is here, it is time for the infamous “New Year, new me” statement or should I say trend. Many of us try to do a 360 turn around in our lives in a short period of time and make a million and one changes and/or commitments only to give up on them after the holiday high is over i.e. give or take 2 weeks to a month if I’m being generous. In this blog post, we will be looking at how to get out of that trap this year and actually make your New Year resolutions stick around long enough to do their job. Let’s gooo!
Why Do People Fail to Keep Up with Their Resolutions?
According to Forbes, only about 8% of people typically keep their New Year’s resolutions throughout the year. Why is this the case? This is more of an opinion than fact so please take it with a grain of salt. Using myself as an example, I think it is because these resolutions are made based on feelings and emotions and not deep-rooted logic. Emotions can change easily so they are not reliable, for example, you may be angry at your significant other and call them names but when you are clear headed you realise you should not have said what you said and you probably did not mean it.
“New Year, new me” is such an easy sell, it’s simple, it’s a catchphrase that can easily creep into our vocabulary even if it we do not mean it. It makes sense, the concept of wanting to transform into a new person is desirable but we are humans not Autobots or Decepticons so it will take a lot more time and it starts with bit by bit just like building a house takes bit by bit not a one night transformation and it is not Freaky Friday where you will wake up in another person's body.
If we take the time to take mental stock and do some proper reflection on the year we just had, the failures, setbacks, shortcomings, breakthroughs and successes, we can really know what to change and also plan on how what to change (see 11 Steps for Creating an Effective Plan). Do not get caught in the holiday and the New Year, new me high because like every other high, there is always a come down.
To illustrate, the ridiculousness of this New Year, new me, high, here is a YouTube skit by 4Yall Ent you can go back and watch other years (please watch it after reading the full blog post).
How to Stick to Your Resolutions
I chose twelve ways to represent each month.
I think what is important is being very clear and intentional about what you want. Avoid taking too much on, you may be able to do them at first but they will wear you out quickly, it is like lifting weights at the gym especially above what you usually lift, you may have the initial momentum to make at most five pumps especially if you just came into the gym but after that your arms will give way.
1.Take Action Everyday
What you do on a daily basis will obviously affect how your 2019 goes and what you are able to change. I like to tell myself that the future you want is here every day. According to Debora McLaughlin, you should “Write down three key goals. Write the three strategies you will use to achieve those goals. Each week, schedule the activities you will do to move toward those goals. When you prioritize your thinking and schedule your time to focus on your goals, you will achieve them with ease and confidence, long before the end of…” 2019.
2. Seek Information and Use It
Chances are your plan for tackling your resolutions may be lacking something but it is usually nothing that information cannot solve. When it comes to planning and overall personal development, information is very essential, it’s like that playing Jenga, if you take out a particular piece, everything can come crashing down like the Wall of Jericho lol.
You need to consume a good amount of information on the area of you want to improve, but not just consumption but also digestion, i.e. implementing said information properly. For example, if your resolution is to lose weight, goal setting information will tell you to be more specific (see How to Set Your Goals and Smash Them) such as losing 20 kg through dieting. Then you will also have to do research on your body type, meal planning and ultimately what type of diet will be most effective for you (cough, cough, according to your pocket).
3. Dream Big!
Human beings have shown time and time again that we can do amazing things if we just dream big enough, get out of our comfort zones (See 3 Reasons to You Leave Your Comfort Zone Today!) and put in the work! Becoming a millionaire or billionaire? Check! Inventing something cool? Check! Going to space? Check! And a lot more.
When setting your resolutions, if you do the proper mental work, you will see that dreaming big is fair game, you can achieve a lot in a year. A year has 12 months, 52 weeks, 365 days, 8760 hours, 525600 minutes and 3153600 seconds. People get a lot done in that period of time and you can be one of them if you put your mind to it. The key is to dream big but start small which is leading to the next point.
4. Start Small
I believe it is better to be underwhelmed than overwhelmed when starting out. A baby must crawl before it starts walking and eventually running around. Making drastic changes to your life within the shortest amount of time is not only hard to manage because you will get tired and tired people do not have that much willpower (see How to Break Your Bad Habits) but it will lead to something like withdrawal syndrome if not the real thing.
For example, if you want to quit smoking, you don’t stop smoking altogether because you will still be quite dependent on it, instead if you smoke 14 sticks of cigarettes, you cut down to 13 and subsequently reduce your daily indulgence until you get to 0! Drastic change without anything to cushion the effect will probably make things worse in the future, it can be like crawling with bare knees on broken bottles, very painful!
5. Use Apps
Technology is very useful when it comes to sticking to our resolutions even though it can be a blessing and/or a curse. Many people have smartphones these days, there is a 95% chance you are reading this on your phone and if you are not it is obviously either a tab or computer.
There are loads of apps on the App Store or Play Store that can help us stick to our resolutions, they have loads of info on whatever it is they specialise in, whether it is setting a timer, budgeting and saving money, tracking your progress, dieting or exercise, meditation, etc. For tracking your progress and fitness related resolutions, you can use the Qardio App, for money related issues you can use Piggybank and for meditation you can use Headspace. Have any apps you use that helps you? Please share with us in the comments!
6. Track Your Progress
Keeping track of your progress is also a double-edged sword because there are times when it has motivated me and there are time it has demotivated me and I more or less gave up. But…you are not me and neither am I. There’s the saying that the only time you should look back is to see how far you have come, this is true in tracking your progress. If you do it every day it may end up backfiring because we all want to see big leaps so quickly but we know that is not how things actually work.
If for example, your goal is to get 10k followers on Instagram and you plan on doing that by putting out more videos and engaging more with your followers, checking your follower count every 2 seconds will leave you disappointed (on that note follow me onInstagram for daily updates *wink wink*) but if you check it weekly or so, you can know what growth strategies are working and which are not and you may end up feeling better.
7. Third Party Accountability
When it comes to goal-setting in any shape or form, accountability is one of the pillars. We are humans, we get tired, we get lazy, sometimes we wake up and don’t feeling like doing anything like that Bruno Mars song but if we rely on feelings too often we will end up not being where we should be. Feelings can make us procrastinate (see 8 Practical Solutions to Procrastination), overthink (see9 Ways to Tackle Overthinking), afraid (see 5 Tips for Overcoming Fear), etc. and they can all prevent us from getting the job done.
This is where accountability comes in, we all have excesses that need to be checked, having to answer to someone who does not take excuses can give us the much needed morale to be on job. Imagine having to submit an assignment but you tell your boss or teacher you were tired, lazy or afraid, they will see them as flimsy excuses and may punish you for it.
8. The Carrot and Stick Method
You may have heard of the concept of “carrot and stick” and if you have not it is basically another meaning for reward and punishment. As humans we like pleasure but we are even better equipped to avoid pain than seek pleasure. This is still similar to accountability but that was external accountability whereas here it is more about self-accountability.
When you stick to a morning routine, go to the gym for the supposed number of days or times, when you eat a banana or cucumber instead of chips, when you post 3 blog posts a week instead of 1, you should reward yourself, preferably something equal to what you have done or a bit less but avoid over-rewarding yourself. For example, people that exercise regularly usually have cheat day(s) where they can indulge in the pleasures of unhealthy food but still manage to keep the equilibrium of a healthy lifestyle.
In the same vein, you should punish yourself when you do not live up to your expectations. It does not mean beating yourself up but it can be just denying yourself the pleasure you would have otherwise had if you did the needful, so instead of having a cheat day you would not have a cheat day for an extra week. Another option is having to pay with your money for not sticking to your goals, maybe like $100 to a friend. Hopefully, it will help motivate you whenever next you are having a flimsy excuse as to not stick to your resolution.
9. Avoid Calling It a New Year Resolution
According to Caroline Stokes, New Year resolutions are a way to punish ourselves for indulging during the holidays because we feel guilty. It is like looking at ourselves after all the binging of holiday goodness and being mad at ourselves because we have pot bellies lol and we want to change based on that moment i.e. more emotional than logical and it is fleeting. This would not work because it is probably as shallow as the roots of a corn seedling. Instead of putting this sort of pressure on ourselves says Stokes, we should turn the so-called resolution into a new habit we want to create (see 5 Ways to Maintain Good Habits).
10. Connect It To An Existing Habit
When it comes down to it, resolutions are about habit change, whether it is adopting a new habit or stopping an old one. When it comes to habit change, it has become fact that you cannot completely get rid of a habit but you can only change the routine (see Charles Duhigg’s The Power of Habit).
According to Debra Russell, “The easiest way to change a habit or behaviour is to attach it to one that is already established. Want to floss your teeth every night? Do it right after you brush. Want to take vitamins? Put them next to your coffee maker and take them while it's brewing. Attach the new habit to a well-established habit in a way that makes sense to you.”
11. Don’t Beat Yourself Up
Humans are imperfect creatures and due to that we cannot create perfection, it is simply unattainable like the Z in a PPC curve (Economics students know what I mean lol). On the road to making your resolutions a reality, you are going to encounter setbacks, you are going to be rejected (see How to Handle Rejection), failures, etc., just keep in mind that it is part of the journey and it is fine, you can moan about it but avoid dwelling and wallowing for longer than necessary.
Do not give up completely because you missed one day at the gym because work was crazy or because you lost some followers or could not post 3 times a week as you had attended. Your inner critic will raise its ugly head but you have to tell it to shut up! You are not worthless because you missed one or two days (see How to Combat Your Negative Thoughts and Quieten Your Inner Critic). What is important is that you try to correct these issues and keep going!
12. Ask for Help
According to the American Psychological Association Help Center, “Accepting help from those who care about you and will listen strengthens your resilience and ability to manage stress caused by your resolution. If you feel overwhelmed or unable to meet your goals on your own, consider seeking professional help. Psychologists are uniquely trained to understand the connection between the mind and body. They can offer strategies as to how to adjust your goals so that they are attainable, as well as help you change unhealthy behaviours and address emotional issues.”
QOTD: “Remember, it is not the extent of the change that matters, but rather the act of recognizing that lifestyle change is important and working toward it, one step at a time.” - Lynn Bufka, PhD.
WELL, THAT’S IT FROM ME GUYS, NOW…
What are some of your New Year resolutions and how do you plan on sticking to them? Comment below! If your resolutions includes reading more or perhaps you are seeking for ways to better yourself then you can get a free sample of my e-book THE STARTING POINT. Share this on social media so it can help others and SUBSCRIBE to my blog so you don’t miss a thing! Follow me on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest for frequent updates. See ya next Monday and Happy New Year in advance!
Previous Post: 7 High Income Skills You Can Learn Online for 2019
My name is Ofai and I'm passionate about blogging and it gives me fulfillment that I can help you out so sit back, relax and enjoy your weekly carats of #SelfImprovementGems with me!