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Each new year, the majority of people will come up with a resolution or goal that they want to stick to throughout the coming year. Unfortunately, lots of these resolutions will be forgotten about or ignored, probably within a month or two. But what is the reason for this? Are the goals just unattainable?
Some of the most common resolutions include exercising more and losing weight, learning a new skill, getting more organised, as well as spending more time with family and friends. Better budgeting, through spending less money on frivolous things, is also a popular goal. None of these resolutions are unrealistic, so why do so many of us fail to stick to them?
Part of the reason is that once the optimistic glow of a fresh start wears off, despite the best of intentions, we lose our drive to continue with our goals. Of those who make a New Year’s resolution, only 71% of people have kept to it within the first two weeks. And by six months, this percentage has dropped to 46%.
If you want to stick to your goals, and are worried about losing your motivation, there are things you can try. To help you get started, we’ve explored a few tips below:
The mind is a powerful tool. So when you think you can succeed, chances are you will. Thus mentally preparing yourself for the changes your resolution will bring should help you stick to your goals. Think about the change you want to see, and make a list of the reasons you haven’t managed to bring about this change in the past. This will help you to overcome such obstacles moving forward.
You also have to keep positive – don’t just focus on previous failings, but look to the future, visualising your success. It’s helpful to make more gradual changes, working towards a bigger goal, rather than trying to meet your targets quickly. You should furthermore allow some room for error. We can’t predict the future, and there are bound to be setbacks you’ll need to overcome.
Another important thing to keep in mind, in terms of sticking to your New Year’s resolutions, is picking a goal that you’ll truly want to achieve. The resolution should motivate you, and not be chosen to make someone else happy. Having support is helpful, but if you aren’t passionate about your goal, it’s unlikely to succeed.
Make sure that your New Year’s goal aligns with your priorities and aspirations, as well as your other goals, such as those of your career and personal life. For example, if your goal is to learn a new skill, this could be linked to your career aspirations. You could learn how to use a software system that can be used in your job.
When deciding on your New Year’s resolutions, there’s no point being vague. It’s a recipe for disaster. For instance, the goal of ‘learning a new skill’ could encompass just about anything. You may forget about it, or try to learn something simple that you’re not particularly interested in.
Your resolution should also have measurable success. How will you know if you have achieved your goal? If your new skill is speaking a foreign language, what level do you want to get to? Will you be getting a formal qualification, or just want to be fluent enough to have simple conversations? There has to be a way to determine when you have actually reached your resolution.
A mistake a lot of people make with their New Year’s resolutions is taking on too many goals at once. You may want to learn how to knit, speak a foreign language, and fix a car, but you probably won’t have time to learn them all at once, especially over the course of a year. Too many resolutions will probably lead to you giving up on all of them, as you’re bound to get frustrated with your lack of progress.
Instead of stretching yourself too thin, you should make a shortlist of resolutions, and narrow this down depending on your other priorities and time commitments. If you don’t have a lot of free time, taking on a huge project probably won’t be feasible, no matter how much you want to achieve that goal. So aim for something that you’re passionate about, but can realistically stick to.
It’s also good to remember that there is no point taking on loads of resolutions if you are going to half-heartedly fulfil them. It’s better to excel at one goal than make token efforts towards several resolutions.
It can be easy to forget about your goals. You’ll have plenty of other things on your mind, and will undoubtedly have to concentrate on more immediate goals anyway. The best way to keep your resolutions in mind is to write them down, and display them somewhere prominent. You should also share them with your friends, so that they can support you, and remind you of your goals where possible. There is more accountability when you tell others about your objectives.
Writing and sharing your resolutions can furthermore ensure that you don’t stray away from your original intentions. It may be tempting to adjust your goals after a few months, to make them easier to achieve. But if others know what you wanted to aim towards, and your resolution is taped up on a wall somewhere, you’re more likely to stick to these resolutions.
Try to review your New Year’s resolutions on at least a monthly basis, noting what progress you’ve made, and how far you have to go. If you’ve broken your resolutions down into smaller goals, you can also set reminders for yourself, which will prompt you to work on these when you can.
In addition to tracking your progress, you should make adjustments to your plan where necessary. Setbacks are almost guaranteed to happen, and you may need to account for them in your targets. Do your best to move past any mistakes you make, and make up for them in future. For example, say your goal was to learn how to play the piano. If you missed a practice session, find the time in the coming days to practise, and don’t be too hard on yourself about missing it in the first place.
Overall, if you want to keep to your New Year’s resolutions, you need to pick something specific that motivates you, keep to a couple of goals, and make sure others know about your aims. And above all, keep positive! A few setbacks aren’t the end of the world, you just need to keep pushing yourself.