Ok, so by now you know that 80 percent of all New Year’s resolutions fail. But don’t let that discourage you to crawl back into bed with a box of Reese Peanut Butter Cups and rewatch episodes of The Office for the rest of January. Instead of giving into end-of-January New Year’s resolution despair, try these five powerful strategies for keeping your New Year’s goals:
- Pick one resolution. If you’re one of those people who make a long list of New Year’s resolutions, we applaud your optimism. However, we recommend picking just one resolution to devote your energy to rather than spreading yourself thin over too many objectives. Remember: establishing new behaviors takes time and focusing your attention on a single resolution at a time is more likely to result in long-term success.
- Break your resolution down into micro-goals. As we mentioned, a vague, lofty resolution is a doomed resolution. To make your resolution attainable, try breaking your resolution into bite-size portions, or “micro-goals.” Try rephrasing your resolution into a micro-goal using this template:
- I will [BEHAVIOR] at/by [TIME].
So, “be healthier” can be reworked into something like, “I will drink one glass of water when I wake up.” “Lose weight” can be upgraded to “I will go to the gym three times a week,” and “travel” can be revised to “I will visit a new country by the end of this year.” By structuring your resolution as an actionable micro-goal with clear parameters and a deadline, you set yourself up for a win.
- Come up with a game plan. You may have noticed you didn’t wake up on January 1 knowing exactly what to do to accomplish your resolution and change your life. Achieving your goals requires planning—not only for what you will do but also for obstacles that you’ll encounter along the way.
Let’s use this micro goal as an example: “I will go to the gym three times a week.”
It seems straightforward enough, right? But in addition to carving out time in your schedule to go to the gym, you should also anticipate roadblocks. Your plan of attack might look something like:
Micro goal: I will go to the gym three times a week.
Obstacle: I’m too tired after work to go to the gym.
Defense: I will go to the gym in the morning before work.
We like this plan—particularly because it helps you skip the eight hours of talking yourself out of going to the gym. Exercising can be energizing, so early workouts can be an ideal morning ritual. It might be a struggle to drag yourself out of bed those first few mornings, but once you’re in the habit, you’ll be happy you did.
- Forgive failures. If you oversleep and miss your workout or slip up on your diet because your coworker brings in Krispy Kremes, don’t panic.
Change is hard! Everyone makes mistakes, no matter how well you plan. Remember that you’re human, and there will be days that don’t go exactly as you wanted. The important thing is not to allow a missed fitness class or chocolate-glazed donut to derail your New Year’s resolution entirely. If you do mess up, don’t focus on the mistake—focus on getting back on track. Forgiving occasional failures and showing compassion to yourself puts you in the mindset to come back stronger than ever tomorrow.