New Years’ resolutions have a nasty habit of remaining unfulfilled. Sure, we eventually mean to get around to accomplishing the goals we’ve set for ourselves, but we never actually nut up and do it. Instead, we procrastinate. We make excuses, we distract ourselves, and we ultimately fall into a routine of stubbornly failing to accomplish anything. It’s something of a New Years’ tradition.
Have you ever thought that the problem might not be with us, but with the goals we’re setting for ourselves?
Think of a resolution as an obstacle which you’re tasked with overcoming using whatever self-improvement tools in your arsenal. Keep in mind that those tools can only do so much – and can only go so far – before they reach the limits of their usefulness. What I’m basically trying to say here is that unless you set reasonable, realistic goals for yourself, you may as well be trying to use a hammer to demolish a skyscraper.
To that end, I’ve put together a few basic guidelines to keep in mind when putting together your resolution, to help you ensure that you’ll actually be able to achieve it.
Choose One Thing to Improve Upon
The first, most important piece of advice I can give is to keep things simple. It’s better to successfully and significantly improve one element of your life than it is to try haphazardly taking on ten different goals (and failing to achieve any of them). This year, think of one trait, flaw, or routine you want to be rid of or improve upon above all others, and focus exclusively on that.
Draw Up A Plan
Once you’ve figured out what you want to work on, it’s time to put together a game plan. A New years’ Resolution isn’t something you can simply blunder towards, after all: it’s an ongoing process, consisting of multiple steps, goals, and pitfalls. If you’ve got at least a basic plan for each step of that process, you’ll maximize your chances of actually succeeding. Basically, you’re going to need to do a bit of homework.
Let’s say, for example, that you want to lose weight. You might opt to change what you eat first, meaning you’ll need to do some research into nutrition, including where you can go to buy the necessary supplies and supplements. You might next decide to start hitting the gym, though you’ll have no idea where to go if you don’t first work out which fitness center is most convenient to you (and which offers the best membership rates). Ideally, you’ll want to establish a time-frame in which you’ll accomplish all of this – for example, losing five pounds by August.
Be Realistic; Know Your Limits
A lot of resolutions end up failing because the people making them fail to take into account their limits. They set impossible goals for themselves, and when the time comes to achieve those goals, they’re naturally incapable of doing so. They become discouraged, and end up abandoning their resolution, promising they’ll do better next year.
Know what you’re capable of, and keep your New Years’ resolution reasonable and achievable. Going back to the weight loss example, let’s say you want to lose 20 pounds. Planning to lose those 20 pounds in a single month would not only be next to impossible, it’d also be extremely unhealthy. Set your goals based on the amount of time you’re able to dedicate to pursuing them.
Be Prepared To Work At It – And To Occasionally Fail
It should be fairly clear by now that successfully achieving a New Years’ resolution actually requires a fair bit of work. It isn’t something you can simply toss out and then pursue at your leisure. It’s something you actually need to work at in order to get anywhere. And it’s not going to be easy, either – there’s a good chance you’ll encounter setbacks, there’s an even better chance you might occasionally fail at what you’re trying to do.
Don’t get discouraged. Keep pushing forward, and keep going that extra mile.
Remember: Accomplishment Is Only the First Step
So you’ve lost the weight you wanted to get rid of. Now what? Surely, you can’t go back to the sort of lifestyle you had before – the lifestyle that resulted in you packing on those twenty pounds in the first place. If you do that, then you’ll just end up back where you started by this time next year.
Don’t fall into the trap where you ‘reward’ yourself for your achievement by falling out of the routines that got you there in the first place.
Whatever resolution you’ve made, it should be clear that reaching your initial goal is only the first step in an ongoing process. Self-improvement isn’t really something you can just forget about once you’ve passed an imaginary goalpost. It’s something you have to constantly work at, forming new habits that’ll make you a better person.
It can take anywhere from nine weeks to eight months for a new habit to form. In that time, it’s incredibly easy to fall back into old routines, to forget about all you’ve accomplished and all the effort you’ve put in. While you can miss a day or two here or there; you’re going to need to keep pushing yourself if you want to see any real change come as a result of your resolution.
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