What is it about the promise of a new year that makes us think we’re suddenly going to hit up the gym every day and learn Spanish faster than you can say ‘sangria’?
Those things can happen, but they’re unlikely to happen overnight, as if by magic. Resolutions are tricky to achieve because they often involve doing things we don’t find fun (do you know anyone who has resolved to watch more Netflix?), or they require us to break habits we’ve had for a long time.
If you’re not quite nailing your resolutions yet, don’t worry. The first step is to accept where you’re at and remember than 1 January is just one day of the year. We have the power to make changes to our lives at any point in time, whatever the day or month. Read more about acceptance here.
Here are some tips for getting back on track with your resolutions after 1 January.
1. Remember the reason why you made the resolution
Why this goal? It’s helpful to consider WHY you made a particular resolution. For example, ‘I want to practise daily meditation because it will help me to cope with stress.’ Thinking about the positive influence a goal can have on our lives reminds us exactly why we set it in the first place.
2. Be realistic
If it was easy, we’d all be super-fit, ridiculously productive and cashed up. But if our goals are unrealistic, we probably won’t reach them, which can make us feel crap. Instead of ‘I’ll work out for an hour every day’, try ‘I’ll work out for 30 minutes on Mondays and Wednesdays’. That way, you’ll feel a sense of achievement when you hit it.
3. Frame your resolution positively
Often we look at a new year’s resolution negatively. For example, ‘I’m so unhealthy... I need to eat less junk food’, or ‘I’m so lazy... I need to watch less Netflix.’ Negative self-talk keeps us stuck in the past. Instead, try to look at things in a positive way. For example, ‘I’ll be healthier if I join the gym’, or ‘I’ll have more free time to explore my passions if I spend less time on social media’. If we can picture a brighter future, it spurs us on. Check out our tips for positive self-talk here.
4. Challenge your assumptions
We all have heaps of assumptions that may get in the way of our goals. To use the gym example again, maybe you believe that you’ll never be able to get fit, or that you just don’t have time to exercise. If you become aware of and break down these assumptions, you might realise they’re not really true and that they’re holding you back. Challenging our assumptions can sometimes be tricky on our own, so you may want to consider seeing a mental health professional who can help you.
5. Prepare for obstacles
Like we said, change ain’t easy. If you expect and plan for obstacles, you may nip them in the bud. If you think you’ll be likely to skip the gym in favour of a sleep-in, work out what you can do to try and overcome that obstacle. That might mean turning in half an hour earlier at night and wearing your activewear to bed. (We hear that’s a thing!)
6. Team up with a mate
Things are better when you don’t feel like you’re on your own. Having a friend to chat with about your goals when your motivation is slipping really helps. They can give you the encouragement you may not be able to give yourself.
7. Create an action plan
Break your goal into smaller steps so they’re easier to achieve. For example, if you want to save money this year, your action plan might look like this:
- Track your spending for a month.
- Come up with a realistic budget.
- Work out what you can save per week.
- Have that amount deducted automatically from your account each pay.
8. Make it fun
If you choose exercise you find enjoyable, or give yourself a small reward once you’ve saved a certain amount of money, you’ll be more likely to stick to your goals. Rewarding the steps you’ve taken towards achieving your goals can be really motivating; otherwise, it can feel like a slog. Just make sure you don’t treat yo’self too often, or you might find your bank account drained or every day becoming a ‘rest day’.
9. Congratulate yourself
When you tick off a step on your action plan and move closer to achieving your goal, remember to congratulate yourself. It’s tough to stick to resolutions, and simply giving it a go and trying your best is something worth celebrating.