Love ‘em or hate ‘em, there’s never a New Year that goes by without the thought of New Year’s Resolutions. A resolution is basically a formal, declared intent to do (or not do) something. The changing of one year into the next is a natural time to reflect on the past year and think about what you want more or less of in the future. A natural time to resolve to change your behavior; live the life you want and be the person you want to be.
New Year’s Resolutions have a deep history. There is evidence that both ancient Babylonians and ancient Romans practiced reflecting on the past year and making specific intentions for the next one. A big complaint about New Year’s Resolutions from the naysayers is that people get excited and set their resolutions and then forget about them a month later. People heatedly declare, “New Year’s Resolutions never work!”.
Many people, with the best of intentions, set their New Year’s Resolutions only to see their excitement and motivation fizzle out by March. You get excited and motivated to move forward with your goals. You write them out and maybe even tell a few people what they are. Then you get back to your day-to-day life and forget all about them.
New Year’s Resolutions are like any other goals and therefore subject to all of the same pitfalls. Many people don’t achieve their New Year’s Resolutions (or any goals) because they don’t set themselves up for success. Here are some tips to help you keep the flame lit if you start to feel your New Year’s Resolutions fizzle:
Write them down
If you know what they are, but didn’t write them down, then write them down. If you wrote them down at the beginning of the year – pull them out and write them again. Yes … write them out again. Just the act of writing out your goals helps bring them to the forefront of your mind. You can even use this worksheet from my book as a template:
Post them up
Out of sight, out of mind. It’s easy to forget your resolutions if they are stuffed into a folder, a drawer, or written in a word doc on your computer and you never see them. After you write them down, post them up. Make a copy and post them in another spot. Make them your computer screen saver. Do whatever you need to do to see them and remind yourself of what you want to work towards.
Schedule a check-in
You don’t mean to get off track with your goals, it just happens. If this is something you really want to change (you have good intentions, just not good follow through) you need to create some accountability. The first step toward creating accountability is setting a time to check in on your goals. Not just setting the time, but scheduling the time. Pick a time, put it in your calendar, and stick to it. Ask yourself things like:
- How are things going?
- What’s working?
- What’s not working?
- Do I need to make any adjustments?
View your progress
Literally view it. As in – create a visual representation that marks your progress. One of the pitfalls of goal setting is that we tend to think of our goals via the checkbox method. This means even if you accomplished 80% of your goal you “failed” because you can’t check the box. Viewing your goal progress on a continuum versus viewing it solely with the checkbox method and actually being able to see your progress can help boost motivation and increase confidence. If you don’t want to create your own, check out apps like Stride, Streaks, or Habitica that have options for tracking to view progress.
An additional step that can help create some accountability is to have someone to check in with. You need a goal buddy. It doesn’t have to be a professional goal buddy (like me), but you do need someone that will give you the support you need to stick with your goals. “Support” doesn’t mean having someone that says things like:
“Who cares if you slipped up and totally blew off your goals. You’re amazing! Maybe they’re not that important anyway!”
“Bummer. So anyway …enough about you let’s talk about me.”
Real goal buddy support is having someone that will encourage you on your path, but also not let you slide with your commitments.
You want your goal buddy to ask you things like:
- “How’s it going with your New Year’s Resolutions?”
- “What’s been the biggest challenge so far?”
- “What kind of support do you need to keep moving forward?”
- “Suck it up.”
- “Stop being such a baby.”
but you know … in a supportive way 🙂
If you get off track with your original Resolutions – don’t sweat it. Truth be told … Sometimes that is just to be a natural part of the process. The most important thing is to recognize when it happens, and instead of beating yourself up, just gently pull yourself back on track. Remember it’s not all-or-nothing, it’s not the checkbox method, it’s about taking stock of what you really want for yourself, and making sure that if you lose sight of that you take the time to regroup.
So what does this next year hold in store for you? As you reflect on this past year and dream about the year ahead, what do you resolve to do? Share your New Year’s Resolutions here!