Starting fresh is something that you can do anytime that you feel the need to do so, but there is something very symbolic about the beginning of a new year. It is widely celebrated around the world as the marking of a milestone, and it sparks people to try and create positive changes in their lives. The problem is that people can allow one stumble to set them back entirely and abandon their goals. An often misattributed quote rings true in this case: People often overestimate what they can do in one day, but underestimate what they can do in one year. To keep yourself on track to creating the life you deserve, try these ten hacks below.
As the year draws to a close, the four words “new year, new me” become a joke; many people say that and go on to do the same things that they have always done. You can avoid these trite words but still create accountability for yourself. Tell a friend or two, let your family members in on your goals, or even make a post on social media. Doing this puts the idea in your head that now other people expect you to stick to your goals, and it also can garner encouragement from those in your circle.
Starting small is incredibly important. Perhaps you’re really struggling with your weight, or an addiction to caffeine or nicotine. These are great things to work on if you choose to do so, but it wouldn’t be fair to yourself to expect that come February you will have your resolutions mastered. Whatever it is that you want to achieve, break it down into bite-size pieces, and master step one before going on to step two. If you do that, you will be building a strong foundation for you to make permanent lifestyle changes.
Keep Track of Progress
One of the biggest resolutions that people make when cracking open a new calendar is getting healthier, and also being more productive at work. Both of these goals can be very big, and it can feel like you’re not getting anywhere with them if you’re not keeping track. Maybe you haven’t lost 15 pounds in the first quarter, but you’ve shaved minutes off your mile time; maybe you have a ton of projects looming over you so it feels like you’re just as swamped as you have always been. If you write down your “little victories” and those big wins, you’ll have something to look back on and motivate you when you feel like it’s all been for naught.
If you set out to do something without making it actionable, assigning a personal due date, or making time for it in your day, it will become something that you put off. For this, we can blame something called Parkinson’s law. A task will expand or contract for the time that you allow it. If you have an email to send “by the end of the day,” it’s likely to be the last thing you do. If you say to yourself, “I have an email to send by noon,” chances are, you’ll get it done. Whether it is eating healthy, getting more involved in your community, or being a better friend, write it down. Schedule it into your week, leave a note in your planner to call a friend on Wednesday afternoon, or to try out a yoga session on Saturday.
Get Back Up
When you’re hard on yourself about something, it becomes a chore and when you view things as a chore, you’re going to be less likely to do it. If you have a goal to read more throughout the year and were doing great for the first few weeks but then you picked up a few extra shifts at work or got a cold, and you haven’t touched a book in a week, that’s okay! Life is still going to happen around you, and sometimes that makes it harder to focus on some of the smaller goals you have. Slipping up doesn’t have to mean giving up, so get back up and get back into it! You got this!
Make It Easier
If something is more easily accessible, you’re going to remember to do it. If your resolution is to eat breakfast every day, then you could try techniques like making breakfast the night before so all you have to do when you wake up is heat and eat; or, you could keep more ‘grab and go’ breakfast foods in your pantry. If you want to plan your day every day, keep your planner on your desk. If you want to read more, keep a book in your bag for those Uber rides. If you set things up to make your goals easier, they’re going to be easier to incorporate as a habit.
SMART goal setting is just one of many goal setting strategies that have been put forth over the years from everyone from authors, to gurus, motivation speakers, to YouTubers. The most important aspect of goal setting is to lay out the things that you want in a clear and easily referenced manner. Don’t say something ambiguous like ‘be better to my partner,’ be more specific and say things like ‘listen to my partner more’ or ‘have at least one date night a week.’ Things like this are more like tasks rather than ambiguous concepts and won’t leave you wondering how to get where you want to be, or if you’re really accomplishing it.
You deserve to achieve big things in your life, and there is no doubt that you can do so. But, the absolute truth of the matter is that you’re not going to achieve those big things all at once. There is nothing wrong with that at all, and in fact, it’s extremely important for you to acknowledge that. Biting off more than you can chew is a sure fire way for you to fall backwards and even give up. If you know that you can’t commit to waking up a whole two hours earlier come January first, then commit to just twenty minutes at a time. Be realistic with yourself and you can watch yourself flourish.
Focus On One Thing At A Time
It would be amazing to wake up tomorrow with the energy to have a healthy breakfast, get a work out in, have a clean home, and get all of our work done. But, that isn’t likely to happen for the majority of people. If your top three priorities of the year are to work out three times a week, commit to your faith, and write a book, awesome! But, you should slowly incorporate each of those things into your life. Maybe you would start with working out twice a week, and when that starts to feel natural, you can start setting aside quiet time to read or picking a weekly service to attend. If you add things in one at a time, they won’t overwhelm you.
Pair Things Up
This seems antithetical to the last one, but it isn’t. You can create daily habits by piggybacking the new habit onto an existing one, and the same with tasks. If you have a twenty-minute commute to work every day, you can use that time to listen to audiobooks! You’re doing something you already have to do, and bam, you’ve got your reading in. If you want to drink more water, you can pair that with brushing your teeth. Have a glass of water (it’s just 8 ounces, you can do it!) right before or after brushing your teeth. This makes it so your resolutions become second nature.