My New Year’s resolution is to create more content and have a consistent running schedule. But I’m not good at resolutions. Making them, planning for them, keeping them – nothing ever gives. I always fall off the wagon and settle back into old routines and habits after a few weeks.
In fact, 80 percent of people fail to keep their resolution by February. While I’m relieved I’m in great company, I know that if we can understand why we’re failing to keep them it’s possible to create a plan that works for each of us.
While spending time thinking of the areas in my life I’d like to improve upon in the new year, I set out on a search to discover the best ways to go about making a New Year’s resolution so my chances of keeping it were higher than they had been in past years.
During that time I spent researching, I compiled a list of seven crucial steps we need to take in order to increase our chances of keeping our New Year’s resolutions:
1. Be Realistic
Whatever your resolution may be, it’s most important that it be realistic. Deciding to finally get in shape, cutting out bad foods from your diet completely or diving headfirst into learning a new skill can set you up for failure if you’re not the type of person that can reach a goal just by deciding that you want to.
If you decide this is the year you’ll finally prioritize getting in shape, be specific and decided what that looks like to you. Do you want to lose 30 pounds or do you want to go to the gym five days a week?
Then break it into a series of mini goals like:
Begin the new year by going to the gym twice a week for the entire month of January
Make it to the gym three times a week for the entire month of February
Go to the gym four times a week for the entire month of March
Finally, in April bump gym visits up to five times a week
Don’t fall victim to a huge goal by trying to tackle it right from the jump. Small steps lead to big changes. Patience and consistency pay off.
2. Pick a One-Word Theme
This step comes from a special holiday hack episode of the podcast Happier with Gretchen Rubin. The idea of having a one-word theme is to choose a word or short phrase that sums up what you want to focus on in the new year, so you have an extra layer of protection that will make sure you stay on track to keeping your resolution.
This is by far my favorite step. Maybe because it’s the easiest and where we can get creative.
My one-word theme for 2018 is create. For me, 2018 will be focused on creating content for The Running Writer along with creating a new running routine that works with my new schedule. To hold myself accountable, I’ll be writing the word create on post-it notes that will find homes on my laptop, my desk at work, my car and even a mirror or two in my apartment.
3. Find a Source of Accountability
Accountability is an old and true trick to getting stuff done, and a step that is the deciding factor to whether I succeed or fail at meeting expectations.
There are a lot of different routes you can take to find the source of accountability that works for you. For example, you can tell a loved one about your New Year’s resolution and ask them to check in on you so you’ll continue to move in the right direction, or you can find a friend that has the same or a similar resolution and create a plan to accomplish your goals together.
Life has taught us all that it’s much harder to throw in the towel when someone is counting on us.
4. Make and Track Your Plan
Another important step to increasing your chances of keeping a New Year’s resolution is to think ahead and create a plan that you can start on January 1 that requires little to no thought.
If your goal is to eat healthier you can plan what you’ll eat for each meal of the day by meal prepping or writing down each meal on a calendar at the beginning of each week. This will ensure you avoid straying off track and eating something you want to cut out of your diet.
Having a plan eliminates the decision-making process from your daily checklist, which means you’ll do what you need to without taking up any extra energy, or facing the “should I or shouldn’t I” debate.
When you spend enough time sticking to your plan, it becomes a brainless habit.
5. Visualize the End Result
It sounds silly, but visualization is powerful.
The first week or month of keeping a resolution is easy because it feels exciting and motivation is fresh. But, once the excitement wears off and you lose motivation ( you will lose it, sorry), staying on track seems impossible.
During challenging times, picture the end result. What will your life look like? How will you feel telling your friends and family that you’ve accomplished your big goal? What doors will open when you meet your resolution?
Imagining the end result helps you to continue moving forward when you’re running on fumes and thinking of calling it quits.
6. Get Comfortable Feeling Uncomfortable
When I’m uncomfortable I have trouble following through, and I’m willing to bet this is where most people start to fall off the wagon. But for better or worse, being uncomfortable is where growth happens.
We make resolutions because there are areas in our lives that need improvement. It’s probably safe to say we need to make progress in these areas because we’re too comfortable making the easier choice. The truth is, the easy choice usually isn’t the best choice and usually turns into a trap for bad habits.
Lean into that uncomfortable feeling that makes you wonder why you thought you could tackle this “impossible goal.” This is where you’ll start to flourish, and waiting on the other side is the boatload of success we both know you’re capable of.
The more you lean in, the more comfortable you’ll eventually begin to feel. Just imagine what else you can accomplish with that kind of confidence!
7. Keep Trying
I’m going to take a wild guess and say you’re reading this blog post because your track record of meeting New Year’s resolution is similar to mine – a little (or very) spotty.
But despite past failures, you’re still willing to give it another try this year. That’s the same attitude you need when you slip up on your goal for the first time in January, or the second time in February and even the hundredth time in October.
Slip-ups are a non-negotiable part of the process but don’t confuse them as excuses to try again next year. Your results depend entirely on how you respond to setbacks. Deciding not to get back up after falling off track hasn’t cut it in the past, and it certainly won’t cut it this year.
I know it’s going to be hard, and you’re going to feel out of your element trying to build your new habit when the fun wears off. But nothing worth having ever comes easy.
Whether you’re frantically trying to make a New Year’s resolution seconds before the ball drops on New Year’s Eve, trying to maintain your goal in February, or feel like your efforts have completely derailed on January 2, use these seven steps as a guide to ensure you’re setting the right goal and remind yourself of how capable you are.
If your New Year’s resolution is to run more, or just be more active in general, join my mailing list and you’ll get a free PDF of my three best tips to turn running into a habit straight to your inbox!
Let’s hold each other accountable to reach our goals by talking about our resolutions in the comments below!
Until next time,