As the year comes to a close, it’s customary to reflect upon your progress as well as your shortcomings throughout the year. From this reflection, we map out goals we hope to achieve in the new year and brand them ‘New Years Resolutions’. But what happens after we make them? According to a study conducted by the University of Scranton, 80% of people fail to keep their resolutions while only 8% complete them. Here’s a step by step game plan to help you make new year’s resolutions you’ll actually keep.
1. Define your goals.
It would be assumed that the easiest part of resolutions would be making them, but that might not be the case for everyone. When defining your goals, it’s important to be specific. Having a broad idea such as, ‘get in shape’ or ‘eat healthier leaves too much room for error and ambiguity can spur frustration later on in the process. If your resolutions are overarching, distinguish for yourself what results will look like. For example, in the first quarter of the year I will spend more time in nature by hiking two times a week. Specificity allows you to effectively chart how you will achieve a goal.
2. Map out the steps needed in order to accomplish your goal.
Now that you have the goal, you can’t blindly throw yourself into achieving it. Attempting to reach a goal without laying out a strategy, is equivalent to diving in deep waters without first knowing how to swim. When you take the time to prepare a game plan, you’re more likely to win. What resources and support will you need to accomplish your goal?
3. Give yourself wiggle room.
Once you’ve figured out your goal, it’s time to set a realistic timeline. Try using the 90-day year method, where you break your goals down by quarters, focusing on a small set of goals at a time. Give yourself an additional week or two for personal obligations. Life can take unexpected turns, both good and bad, making it essential to accommodate potential hiccups in the process. Granting yourself more time initially harms you in no way, in fact it might alleviate any pressure you may feel.
4. Now that you’ve got the resolution, the steps, and a flexible timeline, check if your goals are realistic. Take a second to look at your pre-planned steps, even those that seem minor, and ensure that they are attainable. `Celebrating small victories along the way is critical to your success. Making your resolutions an expedition rather than a destination will serve you better in the long haul.
5. Don’t forget to be kind to yourself.
Change doesn’t happen overnight nor is it easy. It’s of the utmost importance that you always practice compassion towards yourself. No one is perfect- setbacks and mistakes happen. Rather than being self detrimental or adopting a defeatist attitude, take a moment to identify what may have led to your setback, understand how you can avoid repeating it, and move on. The best gift you can give yourself while you journey through these steps toward your resolutions, is patience, love, and forgiveness.