It seems early to be talking about this, but the new year will be here in only 11 days!
New Year’s resolutions seem to be a tradition as old as time. Every year, we commit to spending the next 365 days improving our minds, bodies, finances, health, and organizational skills – and every year, millions of us barely make it through the month before quitting.
I’ve been the person to make bold declarations and watch them fizzle out, and I’ve also had resolutions that I stuck to for the entire year (and often far beyond that). Since I’m one of the few who has had success with yearly resolutions in the past, I thought I’d share some advice on how to make 2016 your most successful year yet!
Prepping 2016 New Year’s Resolutions
One: Start thinking early!
Even though you have plenty of time left to declare your 2016 resolutions, don’t put it off until the last minute! You have a better chance of being successful if you choose a goal carefully.
Make a list of ideas, then really take time to think about each one before choosing the right resolution. How easy are they to pull off? Are they year-long goals, or something you can do in a month? What will you need to be successful?
Two: Try several smaller goals rather than one big one!
Instead of saying, “I’m going to lose [insert insane amount of weight here],” consider breaking it down into smaller, monthly goals instead. That way, instead of feeling defeated after a month of only losing a pound, you can celebrate actually finishing something!
As an example, here are some smaller goals that will be much easier to achieve – and will help you stay healthy throughout the year:
- Do 30 minutes of exercise every day for a month
- Cook dinner at home every night for a month
- Go vegetarian/vegan for a month
- Take a walk after dinner every day for a month
- Give up dessert 6 days a week for a month
My most successful new year’s resolution was during my senior year of college – I decided to give up soda for a year. It was tough for the first month or so, but I did it – and over a decade later, I still do (99% of the time). It helped me get rid of chronic headaches, bloating, insomnia, and saved me a ton of money!
Three: Keep it a solo affair!
Don’t choose a goal that is dependent on anyone else for it to work – it will just give you someone to blame when things go wrong. Also, it’s not a good idea to team up with your spouse/friends with this specific type of goal-setting. You’ll be disappointed if others quit early, or you’ll feel bad if you do.
For example, I would love to set a goal that I wake up every morning to a perfectly clean kitchen. It’s insanely easy for me to do when I live alone…but impossible when I don’t. The only way I could achieve this is by nagging the shit out of my husband, who is supposed to do dishes every night (but does not), or do them myself. Neither option sounds right to me, so I can’t make that a goal.
My husband, however, could make it his goal to do them every night…but that’s just a pipe dream. 🙂
Four: Consider a mantra for the year instead!
Last year, I decided not to go with a specific “goal” for the year, and instead chose a mantra to live by: “Life begins at the end of your comfort zone.” Since I knew 2014 was going to be a big year with a lot of changes, I wanted to leave things more open-ended.
Even though I didn’t always live up to that mantra, I felt like a lot of moments in that year were driven by that mantra. I quit my job, packed up my car, and drove cross-country – by myself. It was a huge challenge, but one that was for sure outside my comfort zone – and was totally worth it.
Instead of a set goal, try finding a mantra/quote that sums up what you want 2016 to look like. Here are some great examples:
Five: Check in periodically!
Keep a journal (or if you blog like me, post it online) where you “check in” with yourself every so often. Every day/week/month (whatever works for you), go back to your goals and see how well you are achieving them.
Celebrate your successes (made the bed 5 days this week) rather than dwelling on failures (forgot to make the bed 2 days). If you find yourself slipping up a lot, consider changing your daily routine/habits to better achieve your goals – or retool them to fit your needs.
One year, I resolved to eat vegetarian every day until dinner. I found that too challenging with my busy work schedule and budget, so I switched to one vegetarian meal each day – and found that much easier. I didn’t feel like a failure at all – just someone who needed to rework my goal to fit my life better.
There you go! So what are you thinking about improving for 2016? I’m still stuck between setting a realistic goal, or going with a mantra like I have the past couple years. Any good ideas are welcome!