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Have you ever noticed that making New Year’s resolutions are pretty easy, but keeping them is a lot harder? By the first week of JANUARY 25% of people have already quit their resolutions.
What is the issue?
You know you have problems you want to work on. You have the discipline to work hard and do amazing things. Yet every single year you feel lucky to maintain your resolutions past the first 60 days of the year.
Every year it feels like you lose the ladder to success
And every single year, you continue to make the seven mistakes that pretty much spell instant doom for your New Year’s Resolutions.
Let’s make next year different by exploring the mistakes you don’t know you make, and helping you change them to make progress.
New Year’s Resolutions are Too Vague
Many people make super generic resolutions, and this is another reason why people can’t keep them successfully.
- I want a new boyfriend
- I’m going to lose weight
- I want to make more money
And while those are great things to work toward, unfortunately they can be mighty challenging without clear expectations.
Think about it. For all three of those examples, how many different ways could you possibly attain those goals? Sitting at my desk, I can think of about five for each (and that isn’t even trying).
And it’s not necessarily bad to have more than one way to achieve your resolution! But the problem is when you don’t specify, you run the risk of failing because you don’t have a plan.
So how do you make a plan?
You get specific.
So how can you make your resolutions more specific? Let’s examine those same three resolutions as above, but change it so it’s more specific.
- I am going to go to my church’s monthly singles group.
- I’m going to lose 20 pounds by exercising.
- I’ll get that new certification so I can get a raise at work.
All three of those plans work toward the broader goal, but now you have something specific you are going to work toward to make it happen.
Suggestion: If you do have a vague New Year’s resolution and you are struggling to specify how you’re going to do this, try this!
Write down all the different ways you could achieve the goal. And when I say write them all down, I mean even the ridiculous ones. Sometimes a list of ideas can give you better perspective. This technique helps just about everybody find one or two specific methods that they can use to achieve their goal.
Break It Down Into Smaller Steps
So you have specified your goal. For the sake of simplicity, we are going to take the first example of losing 20 pounds in one year.
Here is where people go wrong. People want to lose the weight as quickly as possible. And yes, it’s great seeing those results right away. But then once you hit your goal, you immediately revert back to your old habits.
Then you gain the weight back. Or you gain even more weight, so you are heavier than you were in the first place.
How can you achieve this goal AND maintain your success?
Let’s make a more specific goal. Then break the goal down into smaller, more obtainable steps.
You want to lose 20 pounds in the course of a year. This means that you only have to lose 1-2 pounds per month to achieve this goal.
Seriously, that sounds a lot easier than the bigger goal.
If you need some more help with breaking down goals, check out this post about how I break down long term goals in my bullet journal!
If you drink one regular soda per day, that’s 200 calories. Let’s cut out your soda consumption altogether by replacing the liquid with water instead.
After one week, you’ve lost 1400 calories from soda you did not drink. In four weeks, you’ve lost 5600 calories, which is about 1.6 pounds.
There are 52 weeks in a year, so you repeat this process 13 more times (4 weeks x 13 = 52 weeks in one year). Then when you add the results (1.6 pounds x 13), you’ve lost 20.8 pounds worth of calories from soda.
I recognize weight loss isn’t always that easy and it’s to serve as an example (for instance, if you start eating a doughnut in place of that soda, your not going to lose weight).
But I hope this highlights how one small change, done daily for long periods of time, can equal success. Also, by doing it consistently for long periods of time, you’re more likely to stick to the smaller habit.
You Don’t Track Progress
This mindset doesn’t work for successful resolutions
So, let’s talk weight loss again. So, you’re going to lose that 20 pounds, hooray! You quit drinking soda, hooray!
Now it’s April. You step on the scale for the first time since January and expect to lose 5-7 pounds. And those lovely little numbers are no different than they were from the start.
You didn’t track earlier.
Let’s talk about the difference between checking your weight at the end of January, versus waiting until the end of April.
In January, had you noticed that you had no measurable weight loss, you had 31 days to explore the various reasons why you failed.
Waiting until April, you have four times as long to explore. Additionally, you have less time to correct the problem.
Thankfully a simple tracker usually helps fix this.
Beautiful tracker from Kristel shared on Instagram.
Tracking your progress with your New Year’s resolutions doesn’t have to be a challenging task. You can track once a day, once a week, once a month. But the sooner you track measurable goals, the sooner you can make adjustments to compensate for lack of progress.
There are dozens of ways to implement trackers. You can put them in planners and notebooks. You can put them on your computer. You can join accountability programs where you team up with other people to ensure you are maintaining consistency. You could even put up a poster on the wall of your bedroom.
Tracking also doesn’t have to be complicated! Sometimes it’s just as easy as marking an ‘x’ in a box when you complete a task.
I love my bullet journal!
Notebook- Leuchtturm1917 A5 Dot Grid
Pens- Tombow Dual Brush Pens
If you are a long time reader of my blog, you know that I’m in love with all things bullet journal. And personally, it’s an excellent tool for New Year’s resolutions because they are so tracker friendly.
If you don’t know what a bullet journal tracker is, you can fix that by reading here.
There are a plethora of reasons why tracking is so convenient in a bullet journal, though! One, your resolutions are in one place you access daily. Two, if you need to make an adjustment, make something different for the next month. Three, you customize your own trackers and lists.
If you combine the strategies in this article with your bullet journal, you have the potential for massive success.
You Aren’t Connecting with your Resolutions
I’m going to admit it; if you aren’t enjoying the process, it can be a lot more difficult to achieve your goals.
Yes, goal setting takes work, but if you don’t feel connected with what you’re trying to accomplish it is hard to power through the challenging moments.
How can you connect with your resolutions? Find ways to motivate and empower yourself.
Join a weight loss competition. Find small rewards to congratulate your milestones as you reach them.
You can also think differently about the purpose of your resolutions.
For instance, I think one of the coolest ways I see people do resolutions in their bullet journal is by incorporating them to have a similar theme. They do this by finding the common ground between all of their resolutions.
The typical representation of this technique is to select a word of the year. You think about what you want to accomplish, determine the goals, and try to find a common pattern between them.
In 2018 my goal is to build my brand even further! While I’d say it’s loosely tied to resolutions, my plans are to:
- Continue networking and collaborating with other brands and people
- Develop courses and other content
- Continue to write blog posts
- Grow financially to the extent that I can quit my full time job
So when I write that out, yes, all of the goals are different, but they share the theme of relating to my blog. My word of the year jumped out right at the beginning of that example. Did you figure it out?
I’m building these goals and resolutions to make my dreams a reality.
I hope this example helps you see how creating a theme to combine your resolutions and finding a common bond between them can feel both motivating and empowering in your journey.
You’re Doing Too Much
Some people say DO ALL THE THINGS!
And I say DON’T!
Every single person has a laundry list full of things to work on and improve, but the New Year is NOT the time to tackle them all.
Especially if your resolutions don’t have a common connection (see point above if you didn’t read it).
Creating positive habits isn’t something that will happen quickly, nor something that’s going to happen without true effort. It is always better to thoroughly work on fewer changes versus trying to quickly work on many changes.
And if you do set up too many things and recognize you can’t manage everything you picked for New Year’s resolutions., there’s no shame in dropping one or two. It doesn’t make that you lost, and it doesn’t mean you gave up.
It means that you were strong enough to realize that your current method isn’t working, and you’re willing to put in the effort to do what it takes to make change.
Unrealistic New Year’s Resolutions
Don’t expect to get to the top the first time if you’ve never climbed!
People have this not so fabulous tendency to believe that accomplishing their goals will be easier than not.
They see where they are at in the beginning, and they see what the end goal is. Unfortunately, they don’t think about everything else in between that could get in the way of achieving their New Year’s Resolutions.
For instance, you make a resolution that you’re going to save money to go to Hawaii at the end of the year. However, you don’t take into consideration that you can only save $50 per month.
You get to the end of the year, and your vacation savings has a grand total of $600.
Nobody gets to Hawaii for only $600 (unless you are really lucky, or win a trip, or maybe already live in Hawaii).
This doesn’t mean that you don’t have to give up the concept of saving money toward a vacation. You still make the resolution to save $50 a month toward a future vacation to Hawaii. This money specifically goes toward a vacations savings account. And if you keep this up over 3-4 years, you have your money for Hawaii.
When you take the time to see what barriers you may face in your quest to achieve your New Year’s resolutions, it’s easier to determine if your choices are realistic and attainable.
It’s critical to map out realistic possibilities that could potentially be a barrier to your success. If there is a big barrier that isn’t going anywhere, it may not be the best choice for a resolution goal. Or you may need to shift your expectations.
You Quit Too Easily
So many people believe that falling off the wagon when it comes to your New Year’s resolutions is this awful thing that means they can’t keep trying anymore.
Why is this?
Studies indicate that you do this because of guilt.
When you stop doing something you want to do and indulge in feelings of guilt, did you know this actually decreases your willpower and motivation?
I can guarantee that fulfilling your resolutions is SO MUCH MORE CHALLENGING when you don’t have willpower or motivation.
So how can you fix this so you can get back to working on your resolutions, even despite the setback?
- Forgive yourself.
- Recognize that anybody could have done it.
- The most successful people fail.
- Think about what you would tell a friend who suffered a similar setback. Then, give yourself that same encouragement and empowerment.
- Analyze your resolutions. Did you stop because you have too much going on? Then cut back on one or two things.
If you give up entirely, you’re not going to fix anything. But if you drop a resolution that is holding you back, you still may find success with your other resolutions.
Your Expectations are Black and White
People tend to think all or nothing when it comes to New Year’s resolutions.
This can look like lack of flexibility in expectations, or not celebrating smaller successes..
If you are willing to put in the work and try these suggestions, you’ll find some level of success. Maybe you won’t hit your goal. But if you made positive change, it doesn’t matter. Any positive is better than none at all.
If you wanted to lose 20 pounds and lost 10 instead, celebrate.
If you planned on going the whole year without drinking soda and had a few on a vacation, for goodness sake, enjoy your vacation! Having a soda for five days doesn’t mean you failed, and it doesn’t mean that you have to start the habit again when you get back.
Remember to relax, enjoy yourself, and remember that 100% perfection doesn’t have to be the ultimate goal!
Don’t Repeat Your New Year’s Mistakes
Motivational quote by Johanna shared on Instagram.
Only 8% of people end up fulfilling their resolution at the end of the year.
You don’t have to be the 92%. Make it part of your resolution for next year to try these techniques and see if they get you farther than the last year.
Improve yourself, have fun, and enjoy life in the process.
How will you use these techniques to fulfill your New Year’s resolutions in 2018? Tell me about them in the comments!
(If you want to learn more about some of the tools you saw in my bullet journal, read here! If you don’t know anything about bullet journals and want to learn more, read here!)
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I love the obvious time and effort you put into this article! It’s long, well-thought out and well written. Thanks for sharing to readers some smaller steps they can take! I love this especially because I just wrote a blog post about setting monthly goals instead of big year ones, similar to what you said about breaking them down in steps!
Thanks Mikayla! I appreciate your comment. Nobody likes to struggle with their resolutions, so if I can help one person, then that’s amazing enough!