Similar to counting down to midnight on New Year’s Eve, setting resolutions on January 1st of the new year is a time-honored tradition.
Picture this: You start working on your goal at the start of the year, but your resolve starts to slip as January 10th rolls around. And by January 19th, you’ve lost the bright motivation that propelled you at the beginning of the year.
Sound familiar? If you've followed this timeline before, you'd join the dozens of others that have done so, too. (That's because January 19th is the day that most people give up on their New Year’s Resolution!)
Giving up on your goals doesn’t feel great; nor does it set you up for success for the rest of the year. If you’re tired of creating a resolution and not seeing it through for the n-teenth time, try these four slump-busting steps to build and achieve your goals successfully.
Step 1: Define Your Goals With Measurable Outcomes
Goals often arise from problems in your daily life that cause dissatisfaction. Are you dealing with physical discomfort? Mental discord? Consider this when you're outlining your goal, and dig into what's fueling your desire for change.
Then, the next step is to define success with measurable outcomes that you can track. This will make it easier for you to track progress as you go along.
What this looks like: You’ve noticed that you’re feeling more and more sluggish on the day-to-day due to poor sleeping habits and lack of movement. So, you set up a goal to live a more energetic life in the new year. To define success, you decide to take two-mile walks three times a week and sleep at 9 p.m. at least four times a week.
If you’re antsy to create change for yourself but don’t know where to start, take some inspiration from the most popular New Year’s Resolutions:
- Exercising more
- Eating healthier
- Losing weight
- Reducing stress from work
- Quitting smoking
Step 2: Rely on a Routine
One of the best ways to succeed in achieving your goal is to invest in building a routine. Routines can reduce stress related to lack of control and make it easier for your body to move, even on days you’re running low on energy.
What this looks like: You want to start living healthier, so you make a resolution to bike for an hour every day after work. Knowing that visual cues act as strong reminders, you set a tiny bike figurine on your desk at work to keep your goal top-of-mind throughout the day. When you get home after work, an alarm on your phone reminds you that it’s time to go cycling. You repeat this post-work routine every day until you’re used to staying in motion after work instead of taking a nap like you used to.
It might take a few days to figure out what works best for you, but combining allotted time and repetition is a recipe for a successful routine.
Step 3: Update Your Goals Periodically
Your first plan won't always be your best plan. While working on your goals, you may overcome challenges or gain new tips that you wouldn’t know at the start of your journey. Using the power of hindsight, you can update your routine or redefine your plan to craft a smoother path forward.
What this looks like: You’ve been working towards the goal of running a total of five miles every week. After a while, you realize you're in a lot of discomfort due to joint pain. It's tempting to give up, but you try options to better support your joints, like adding turmeric curcumin or collagen to your diet and doing yoga once a week. Additionally, you modify your goal to walk instead.
Ultimately, personal goals should benefit you. Rather than gain stress or frustration from plans that aren't working, take a moment to do what you know works for you.
Step 4: Record Your Progress to Stay Motivated
Motivation dwindles for multiple reasons, including mood, energy levels, and unavoidable interruptions. However, research tells us that one of the best ways to preserve your motivation is to track and celebrate the small achievements you’ve made along the way.
What this looks like: In an effort to cook more and eat healthier, you’ve set a goal to try one new recipe every week. You record your progress by taking a picture of the finished product every meal and jotting down a quick sentence or two about what you thought of the recipe. Over time, you accumulate dozens of photos accompanied by descriptions that help preserve your memory of the dish. These serve as a reminder of what you can accomplish, even when you make a few dishes that don’t turn out well. Even when you're tired, you feel motivated to try a quick recipe to continue working on your goal.
Whether you use photos, your notes app, a notebook, or even voice recordings, make visible records of your progress. Your future self will thank you!
The Bottom Line: Goals Are Year-Round
There can be a lot of noise around setting a New Year’s resolution, but the truth is that you can work on building your goals at any time. You don’t need to wait for a specific day of the year to start a resolution, and the end of a year doesn't mean you need to stop your efforts.
Plus, you can always pick back up where you started if you pause on progress toward your goal. It’s important to take a break when you need it, and may even power up your motivation in the long run. So, try these tips to build success for your goals, and good luck!
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