New Years has come and gone; but judging by the attendance at the gym this morning, resolution season is in high gear. In fact, before the sobering realization that resolutions are hard infiltrates the minds of many Americans (did you know that the success rate of New Year’s resolutions is below 10 percent?), let me share with you a few tips to help you stay on track as the months progress.
MAKE THEM ATTAINABLE
The reason most resolutions fail is because they are unattainable (or not meaningful). Sure, it’d be nice to look like Captain America, but if you’re a 5’6”, thin, Jewish kid from Texas (read: me), chances are you’re not getting called by the Avengers anytime soon. That’s not to say you shouldn’t commit to a resolution this year, but it is to say that in order to find success, you have to set your goals based on you, not Captain America (or any of the Avengers, for that matter).
Goals are important, but it’s even more important to set a goal that is physically possible for you. For example, if you want to fall in love (which I’ve read is one of the top 10 resolutions); but are working 70 hours a week, leaving you little time to get out and meet people; maybe you should start with reducing your work load to make room for the other things in your life. Perhaps start with getting organized, instead? Or becoming a more effective delegator?
MAKE THEM FAIR
Setting fair goals for yourself is critical to succeeding. Don’t set your resolution to quit smoking if you have a ton of stress in your life right now. Instead, work on reducing the stress first, and go from there.
Maybe you want to cut sweets out of your diet, something that is almost universally seen as a positive thing. Great, but don’t tell yourself you are going to stop cold-turkey if you have been eating dessert with every meal for 10 years. Start it slow. Maybe start by cutting out one dessert a week, or by replacing the conventional desserts with fruit. Is it going to get you to your goal right away? Hell no, but it’s a good place to start—and a great way to make sure your new habit sticks.
Which brings me to my last point:
BE KIND TO YOURSELF
This is one of the things people seem to always forget about New Year’s resolutions: they are hard. Don’t expect them to come easy because they won’t, but if you can go into this year knowing that the resolution you have made will take time, and effort, you will set yourself up to succeed in the long run.
And let’s say you do decide to quit smoking (good for your, by the way), don’t be beat yourself up if it’s taking longer than you anticipated. So what if you had three more cigarettes today than you did yesterday? No one said this was going to be easy! Dust yourself off, wake up tomorrow, and work towards improvement. What is the worst thing you can do with failure? Let me tell you: the worst thing you can do with failure is use it as an indictment against yourself, as a measuring stick for how poorly you are doing. Forget all that. Use those small failures as motivation. See where you slipped up, learn from it, and move forward toward change.
Most people quit their resolutions because they aren’t kind to themselves. Treat yourself with compassion and know that you are human, know that you make mistakes. The moment you start doing that is the moment you will realize that your New Year’s resolution is attainable, and the moment real change will begin.
Until next time.