It’s that time of the year again. Each year, it seems to come a little sooner than it did the year before, that time of year when the fireplace is roaring, family and friends congregate at holiday affairs, and people begin feeling cautiously optimistic about the near year. For some, this past year might have been one for the books, full of triumph and achievement; for others, this year might have been a year to strike from the records altogether. No matter which group one falls into, this is a time of year to focus on all things new and beginning, much like the turn of a brand new year.
And with a new year comes resolutions. Weight loss is an ever-popular New Year’s resolution, much like reading more books and taking time to appreciate even the small things in life that we usually take for granted. Perhaps one’s resolution is to visit a family member with whom one was previously very close in an effort to rekindle that connection. Alternately, this might be the prime opportunity to take up a new hobby or learn a new skill. Whatever the case may be, the majority of people start their years with dreams of achieving their momentous resolutions; unfortunately, it’s estimated that only about 8 percent of us will actually achieve our resolutions. However, by using the following tips, keeping your New Year’s resolution might be a powerful, positive omen for the next year.
Challenging Yet Achievable
When it comes to choosing a New Year’s resolution, most people shoot for the stars and decide on exceedingly difficult tasks. While an individual might benefit from losing 60 pounds, that is an incredibly difficult task to achieve in only one year. As such, finding the right resolution — one that poses a challenge while also being achievable — is the first and arguably the most important step toward actually keeping it. In choosing the right resolution, it’s a good idea to think about what keeping or achieving the resolution will involve and how one might incorporate working on that resolution into a daily or weekly routine. For instance, someone whose New Year’s resolution is to learn a language might want to think about how and when he or she would incorporate study time into an existing routine. If a resolution is more accessible and easier to integrate into one’s life, one can take small measures to ensure success from the start.
Make a Clear Plan of Attack
Another important part of keeping or achieving a New Year’s resolution is to make a very clear plan of attack. More specifically, one should break a resolution down into a series of attainable and incremental steps. For someone whose resolution is to lose weight, he or she might begin by incorporating two hour-long workouts into each week and after a month, increasing to three-hour-long workouts per week as the next step. When a person is striving to achieve any type of goal, it’s helpful to have a roadmap. In fact, a map is a perfect analogy: It’s difficult to get to one’s destination without knowing where to make the next turn.
As a person progresses on the road toward achieving his or her resolution, he or she should track the progress that’s been made toward the end result. The greatest benefit of this is that it can offer a way of visualizing or conceptualizing how far someone has come and the distance that’s yet left to go. Additionally, being able to see progress made is highly motivating as it makes people want to get even closer to their goals. It’s also reassuring to see that one’s efforts haven’t been for naught, but rather have actually been fruitful and building up to something big that will afford feelings of pride and accomplishment.
Similar to tracking progress, it’s a good idea to reward progress as well. This isn’t to say that one should indulge in a reward that compromises that progress — such as rewarding weight loss with a dozen donuts — but that are numerous ways to treat oneself for a job well done. Much like children receiving gold stars for their hard work in school, these little incentives can really help with the long haul and resolutions that might take the majority of the next year. When July and August roll around and it’s been many months since the resolution was made, determination begins to wane, and keeping resolutions becomes much less of an imperative; however, just remember the progress that’s been made and plan for a reward after making it another step closer to achieving the resolution.
Talk About That Progress With Others
Programs like Weight Watchers and Alcoholics Anonymous are successful for a number of reasons, but one of those reasons is that it allows individuals with shared experiences and similar issues a means of finding others with whom they can relate. Additionally, this sense of community and fellowship has been found to be immensely motivating as members of these groups inspire one another to greater levels of success. In much the same way, sharing one’s progress toward achieving a resolution is a way to derive additional motivation through the support of one’s family, friends, and other loved ones. In fact, this provides those loved ones the opportunity to be one’s support system, cheering the individual on as he or she continues toward the finish line.
Take Setbacks in Stride
Much like any other journey of self-improvement or healing, there are going to be speed-bumps and setbacks. It’s virtually inevitable. Therefore, when one is setting a New Year’s resolution, it’s important to be aware that there are going to be times when it seems that progress has not only not been made, but actually been lost. These instances will be incredibly discouraging, but they can quickly be overcome with the conviction to persevere and the determination to keep or achieve one’s resolution. One shouldn’t let a setback compromise the resolution entirely; instead, one should focus on completing the task at hand and imagine how rewarding it will be to have fulfilled the resolution. In fact, achieving a resolution after having overcome a number of setbacks makes the victory that much sweeter.