Every year the same old story… you write down your goals and resolutions on the 1st of January only to forget about every single one of them a week later. Maybe you even try hard for the first two days, maybe you even stick to your new year’s resolutions for a full week, but, in the end, you just miserably fail. But not this year, my friend.
Because today I’m here to show some very practical – and most importantly realistic – ways to stick to your New Year’s habits and resolutions.
Without further ado, let’s start!
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1. THINK ABOUT HOW YOU’LL FEEL
Who’s your future you?
Think about it for a second. Instead of writing down the things you want to do, focus on who you want to become and accordingly create a plan to reach that ideal state.
How do you see yourself in an ideal future? Are you happier? Are you more athletic? (Anything is allowed. Do not be afraid to dream too big.)
Starting from that, write down a list of the things you can do every day and weekly and monthly to achieve that specific version of yourself.
In this way, you’ll be able to be more specific on what you can – and most importantly want – to do. Also, you’ll be able to see clearly what your priorities in life are – which is not as foregone as you might think.
2. IMPLEMENTATION INTENTION
So now you set your goals and wrote down some daily habits you need to add to your routine in order to accomplish your final goals. What’s the next step? Stick to your habits.
It takes a tremendous amount of willpower to force yourself to go to the gym – or simply try something new – the first time, but this gradually decreases over time as you continue to go to the gym – and this is basically the overall philosophy.
What you can do to make this first – hard – step easier is to use something called implementation intention. It simply consists of writing down the time and place that you’re gonna do something. What this does is remove the act of deciding.
For example, if you decide – and with “decide” I mean “write down” – that you’re going to the gym at 9:00 p.m on Wednesday but you write it out on Monday night then your levels of willpower will not be affected on Wednesday.
You need to stick to a habit enough times for it to hit that line of automaticity where it doesn’t require much willpower. That’s it. No superpowers required.
3. LEARN HOW TO LOVE WHAT YOU DO
Think of your favourite snack. Would it be hard for you to decide you want to eat some and simply go to the kitchen and grab it? No. Why? Because you like it. And this action doesn’t require almost any willpower at all because you don’t really need willpower to do something you love doing. Which takes us to the next point.
If you say something like “I love reading” – and you repeat it enough times to believe it (You can read more about the power of affirmations here – it’s number #15) your brain will eventually look for some pieces of evidence that you love reading. This is when you should surround yourself with proof that reading has so many benefits for you. You can subscribe to Youtube channels that review books or join a book club or some Facebook groups. Anything you want.
And finally, when you trick your brain into believing you love reading, you’ll start doing it more. Because that’s how you see yourself now: as a reader.
I know it might sound crazy or woo woo at first, but just give it a try. I don’t really need to say anything more. When you’ll try it, you’ll see the changes – and benefits – yourself.
4. FOCUS ON ONE GOAL AT A TIME
I know, I know, you usually feel super motivated on the 2nd of January. “New year, new you” and blah, blah, blah… But let’s be honest for a second.
You won’t be able to keep the routine going if you try to put 10 new activities into it.
You’ll slowly start to feel overwhelmed and that is perfectly OKAY. You’re not a superhuman, and you don’t have to be. It takes our brain a lot of effort to start doing new things, so start with one per time and once it becomes a routine – which means your brain doesn’t have to think much of it – then you can go to the next.
Watch this for some more inspiration: “Try something new for 30 days”
5. KEEP IT TO YOURSELF ONLY
There’s this kinda rule: the more you tell people about your goals, the less you are likely to achieve them.
This happens because every time you tell someone about your goals, you give your brain a little sense of accomplishment. In other words, you feel like you’ve already done a full week of exercises while, in the real life, you’re on the couch watching Netflix.
6. CREATE A STEP BY STEP PLAN
I love step-by-step plans. They have the ability to take you anywhere, seriously.
And with this, I don’t mean writing down every single step in details, because it might become just another way to procrastinate.
Related article: “Stop procrastinating now! 7 ideas”
Something that can really help you achieve something is making it look realistic, which means doing anything in your power to make it look as obtainable as possible. This includes setting some dates to provide some feedbacks or scheduling it.
7. REWARD YOURSELF
After all of this hard work, you need a reward. You’re human, after all. And forgive yourself for having a slug day once in a while.
8. SET UP REMINDERS
It’s really easy to forget about a goal, especially the ones written on New Year’s day since we tend to be overoptimistic (I’ve been through this countless times).
You don’t have to keep it all in your mind. In fact, as David Allen (author of “Getting things done”) says:
“Your mind is for having ideas, not holding them.” – David Allen
So set up daily – or weekly, or monthly – reminders!
9. DON’T SET GOALS IN SOMETHING THAT IS NOT FULLY – OR AT LEAST FOR THE MOST PART – IN YOUR CONTROL
Instead of saying that you want to lose a specific amount of weight – which is not something completely in your control – focus on eating (at least) a healthy meal every day.
Just start from that. Remember: not too big at first, or you’ll make your brain freak out.
Bonus tip: If you want to eat healthier, meal planning can be life-changing.
Keep in mind that if you don’t achieve every single goal you set for yourself you’re not a failure. Apart from your New Year’s resolutions, your overall goal should be not to stay the same over the year. Making mistakes is part of the process and allows us to grow and become better versions of ourselves.
Whatever you go through during this year, just keep trying and growing!
Please, from the bottom of my heart, keep making mistakes!
Neil Gaiman said it better:
“I hope that in this year to come, you make mistakes. Because if you are making mistakes, then you are making new things, trying new things, learning, living, pushing yourself, changing yourself, changing your world. You’re doing things you’ve never done before, and more importantly, you’re doing something”
Let me know in the comments your New Year’s resolutions – or your goals, in general.