It’s a brand new year — welcome to 2013! Tis the season for making — and often breaking — New Years’ resolutions. Resolutions often don’t turn out the way we intend. Why is it our good intentions often turn into epic failures?
The sense of joy and hope a brand-new year brings can fade fast after the ball drops at midnight. The confidence we felt when first making our resolutions can dissipate once the everyday routines pick up, making it easy to give up on resolutions before we really get started.
Here are some tips to make better resolutions and actually stick to them:
• Resolve to resolve less. People tend to over-resolve, creating laundry lists of resolutions. When we aim to change and improve too many things, it can be hard to know where to start. It’s easy to feel overwhelmed and start dropping items off the resolution list. Instead, pick one or two things that you really want to change in 2013 and focus on those. A couple of small changes that you stick to are much better than a list full of broken promises to yourself.
• Leave the pie in the sky and get realistic. You know yourself better than anyone else, so why make unobtainable resolutions you’ll feel guilty about later?
For example, If you have been trying to quit smoking for years and have not been successful, resolving to quit smoking may not be the best resolution for you again this year. Instead, resolve to cut back on smoking in 2013. If you’re a two-pack-a-day smoker, resolve to cut it down to one pack a day. This will set you up for a better chance at success later down the road instead of trying to quit cold turkey.
If you have been trying to lose weight unsuccessfully for a while, instead of resolving to get down to a size 6 in 2013, resolve to work out at least once per week and/or to eat at least one healthy meal each week. Once you establish some healthier habits, you may find losing weight to be one of the positive side effects.
• Don’t just resolve to do better, set goals. People often give up resolutions quickly because they have no plan to get from point A to point B. Don’t just make resolutions, set specific and realistic goals.
If you want to spend more time with family, set a goal such as participating in at least one family activity each week. Then pick a date on which you will reassess your goals to see how you are doing. Write this down in your datebook or calendar so you won’t forget to check up on yourself.
• Write your goals down. Once you decide what you want to do and how you want to do it, write it all down and keep it handy. Break your resolution down into smaller obtainable goals. Periodically, or as often as needed, take out your goals and read over them. Transfer your goals onto your calendar, especially if you are resolving to do something each week or each month. You are more likely to do it if you put it into your schedule and allow time for it.
• Give yourself a motivational visual. If you want to save money this year to go on a special trip, for example, find a picture of a location that you want to visit, frame it and put it where you will see it daily. Every time you see the picture you will be reminded of your goal and, hopefully, be motivated to stick to your savings plan to get there.
The same goes for anything else. If you want to lose weight, find a picture of a really great outfit that you’d like to fit into or of an activity that you’d like to do once you lose weight and keep it nearby to help motivate you. Trying to quit smoking for a loved one? Slip a wallet-sized photo of that person in between your pack of cigarettes and the cellophane wrapper. That way, every time you reach for your pack, you will see the reason you are trying to quit.
• Daily affirmations can equal success. We all stare at ourselves in our bathroom mirrors at least once or more a day. Get yourself a dry-erase marker and write your resolution and motivational quotes across the top of your bathroom mirror so you’ll see them every day. Since it’s a dry-erase marker, you can easily change or add to your resolution as needed.
When getting ready for bed, you also can write down a few things that you want to accomplish the next day. The next morning, you’ll be reminded of what you need to do that day.