Mid-January has come, and we already may be losing a grip on our New Year’s Resolutions. To mitigate this abandonment, we have to rethink resolutions. In reality, a promise you make to yourself before the conception of the new year is nothing but a goal. Luckily, there are tried and true methods that help us to choose and stick to goals, regardless of the form they take.
Don’t Bite Off More Than You Can Chew
Staying realistic is the first step in achieving your goals. This doesn’t mean you can’t work towards something impressive, but often New Year’s Resolutions are effective not because of the nature of the actual achievement but simply because a goal was set and completed. Take getting in shape, for example. Instead of attempting to lose weight, make your resolution something more manageable like “go to the gym 4 days a week”. By breaking up the larger task, it becomes far more realistic. With this in mind, it’s best to start small and complete increasingly daunting goals. Each success will affirm confidence in yourself and prepare you to tackle something bigger.
Utilize Positive Reinforcement
When a dog owner teaches their pup to sit, they give it a treat after it successfully completes a task. Obviously we aren’t canines, but the principle of positive reinforcement remains the same. When you achieve a goal, a part of a goal, or anything at all that you think merits some reward, don’t hesitate to give it to yourself. Attend the gym four days a week for a month? Treat yourself to a spa day (this can be as simple as a warm bath and face-mask at home). Just remember to ensure that your self-reward does not contradict your resolution. For example, it would be counterintuitive to let yourself eat a gallon of ice cream after eating well for a week.
Stick to it (with compassion)
Easier said than done of course, but a core tenant of sticking to a goal is, well, sticking to a goal. Often we forget that self-improvement is not supposed to be easy. There are going to be ups and downs on your wellness journey, regardless of the form it takes. When you’re finding it hard to even begin your resolution, let alone complete it, remember that the resistance you feel is a testament to the importance and significance of your task. Completing it will then feel that much better. But it isn’t all about hardy determination and steadfast perseverance-- sometimes we miss a day or simply can’t muster the energy to do what we planned to. Take these small setbacks with a grain of salt, and practice forgiveness and compassion. Beating yourself up will only make you resent the process.