How to keep a New Year’s Resolution, Part II
Five days into the New Year - how are you going with your resolutions? Are you cracking ahead or starting to lose steam? Even if you’ve already stuffed up or never really began, you can get on track. We’re only five days in. Plus today is Monday. Monday is a great day to start things. Use the following tips to help you stay on track, and start (again) today.
Know that Change is Necessary
You can’t expect to get to your goal without making some changes. To improve, in whatever area, you need to start to either act or think differently (both is best). Change is uncomfortable until it becomes your new normal, but that will happen. Remember that your old ways have brought you to where you are right now. What new habits do you need to maintain to get you where you would like to go?
Connect with Why
You might never really enjoy exercising/ studying/ talking to new people, but if you can find the reason it’s ‘worth it’, you can focus on that instead of the uncomfortableness of the action. If you don’t like the activity but it’s a goal for you, there must be something about it that helps you reach a goal you do like. Are you doing it to improve your business, for your family, for your health? Keep this in mind when you’re struggling to make your commitment. This knowledge will also come in handy later if you keep failing to meet your goal. If you know why you’re aiming for a particular goal, you can use that knowledge to find other ways to obtain whatever it is that’s ‘worth it’, with a new goal.
Keep Telling People
Let other people know your resolutions, but also continue to broadcast your progress. If you give others regular updates on how you’re going, you’ll be more accountable and more likely to keep going. Social motivation is powerful and other people generally enjoy congratulating you on your progress (if they don’t, find other people to tell – negative social interactions can make keeping going more difficult).
Keep writing it down - Measure it
So you read the last post and have a detailed plan of how to reach your goal. Now you need to track your progress towards that goal. Writing down what you do each day to support your goal (or what got in the way) provides an objective record of your progress as well as making you think about why you sometimes stuff up. Writing down what we do/ recording it in an app also helps us to stick to our plan because we can easily see our progress, which motivates us to continue. Also known as…
Tick it off
For a lot of people, ticking off an item on a list (or marking a calendar, or making a post on FB) is satisfying. Humans enjoy completion. It makes your day-to-day progress tangible. Buy a wall calendar and put a big red tick on each day you behave in accordance with your goal. Or use an app specific to your goal that tracks progress and milestones. For example, the Map My Run/Walk products track your workouts, send out weekly stats and send congratulatory emails when you hit milestone workouts, e.g. 100 runs logged. I’m not paid by these guys but I do feel they have nailed the motivation side in their apps!
Don’t Miss Twice
Eventually you’re going to stuff up. It happens. Even the best prepared, most disciplined can be struck down by food poisoning or lightning. And the rest of us will get lazy or forgetful from time to time. Knowing that you will stuff up occasionally means you don’t have to blow your whole goal the first time you smoke another cigarette or eat chocolate. You can keep it in perspective and not give up. But don’t keep the stuff up going. Don’t let it happen twice in a row. Once that happens, you’re in real danger of losing the habit. So get straight back on track and keep your resolution the next time you’re due to. Then repeat as necessary. And if you do miss twice (or thrice, or more) then…
Measure Your Progress Backwards
Measuring backwards – looking at what you did last session or last week and trying to better that, is more motivating than always focussing on a goal that can seem far away and which may become unachievable due to setbacks such as financial problems, injuries, time constraints or relationship commitments. By just looking at the last week, progress seems more achievable - just do a tiny bit more than last time, rather than looking at how far you still have to go. This is also something to keep in mind when you have a lot of stuff ups in a week. That’s okay, just aim for less the next week – no need to give up!
Keep going, you’re doing great!
Lana Hall, Psychologist. Helping you to live your best life, using the power of psychology.