As 2019 is coming to an end and the new year is fast approaching, most of us start to take stock of the last year and make resolutions for the year to come. Some want to exercise more and lose weight, other want to learn a new skill, save more money, quit smoking or do more of something they didn’t have time for in the last year, such as reading books or traveling. It’s not easy, though, to keep the goals, and it oftentimes happens that we end up frustrated with not being able to achieve what we wanted. As it turns out, most people fail to stick to their goals for longer than 6 weeks – not a very motivating result, is it? It might not be but it’s still worth to make New Year’s resolutions, as it’s a good opportunity to think about our expectations towards the coming year and try out something we’ve wanted to do for a long time but didn’t quite find the motivation.
On the other hand, there are people who are more successful in crossing the goals off their list. So how do they do it?
Don’t start off setting goals which you already know are too ambitious to achieve in a year. Doing so will set you up for a failure. Big goals might be overwhelming so it’s better to start small and make sure your resolutions are attainable. Achieving smaller things will let you see gradual progress and will further motivate you to keep to your resolutions. So if you want to exercise more frequently, plan going to the gym twice a week instead of every day. Or, if you want to eat less sugar, start by cutting down on it first and limit it to one or two days a week instead of resolving to quit sugar altogether from day one of the new year.
You can use the Pareto Principle to focus on 20% of your goals that will possibly generate 80% of your desired outcome. For example, if you want to lose weight, cut out on the most unhealthy food that you eat. It will make you feel better, and you will start losing weight without too much sacrifice.
If there are some big goals you want to include in your list of resolutions, it’s a good idea to break them up into smaller ones. Write them down in steps and cross them off your list one by one. Seeing the progress will boost your confidence and motivate you. And even if you don’t manage to achieve all parts of your big goal, you’ll be satisfied to see that you’re on your way to do so. Maybe you’ll be able to finish next year?
Rather than making a vague statement “I want to lose weight”, plan exactly what steps you’re going to take to do it. It’s far more likely you’ll succeed if you know exactly what you need to do to achieve something. The more specific your goal is, the better. Vague goals might be frustrating and that’s what you want to avoid.
It’s known for a fact that you’re more likely to succeed if you write your goals down. Doing so will not only help you remember them but will also give you a greater sense of accountability. Having made a list of resolutions, you can then review them at any time and monitor the progress. Writing down your goals has one more advantage – it helps you clarify what you want to achieve and be precise about your plans.
What can be extremely helpful is a task management tool, such as HeySpace. You can use it to create a board with your New Year’s resolutions and create a visual representation of what you want to achieve. It will be a perfect point of reference for tracking progress and will help you stay focused and motivated throughout the year.
A useful strategy might be to set time limits for each goal. You shouldn’t work on all of them at the same time, as it might be too much and you’re bound to get discouraged. Instead, get a notebook, or a productivity tool and plan your actions for each week or month. Thanks to that, you’ll have full control over your progress and you’ll stay motivated to do what you’ve planned. Don’t get discouraged if you don’t always stick to your plan – a bad day can happen to all of us and it’s not the end of the world. It should be a pleasure, not a punishment!
Sharing your goal with a friend or a family member will give you a sense of obligation and accountability. You’ll also be sure you won’t forget about it, as there will be someone to remind you. Having someone’s support will make it easier to stick to your resolution. It might sometimes be difficult to find the motivation by yourself, but if you can count on someone else to support you, chances are you won’t give up your goal. And maybe you’ll share a resolution? For instance, if both of you want to gain the same skill, you can join your efforts and work towards a goal together, encouraging and helping each other.
It might be a good idea to think of possible problems already when making a list of your New Year’s resolutions. Having them in mind, you’ll avoid getting frustrated later on in the year. Obviously, you won’t be able to anticipate and prevent all potential problems, but even if you can think of some, it will be enough to spare lots of frustrations.
To strengthen your motivation, think of small things you’ll reward yourself with for achieving a goal, or part of it. It’s particularly important at the beginning, as it will be much easier to work towards your goals once you get in the habits, but the initial stage can be challenging. The new year should be something you look forward to, so when planning your activities for the year, don’t forget to include some rewards that will further motivate you. You definitely deserve it!