01 Jan 4 Ways to Stick To Your New Year Resolutions
January is always a good month. Partially because it’s my birthday month, but also because it’s the start of a new year and that’s something that has always been meaningful to me. I’m usually exhausted after the holidays. I rarely get as many personal or professional goals accomplished after October because I become consumed with work and social obligations. But once January hits, the holidays are over and I can start anew on my goals for the new year.
Each year I’ve slowly gotten a little better at sticking to my new year’s resolutions. I’m still not perfect, but the strategies below have helped me to get much farther than I used to! Here are four psychology-backed ways to stick to your goals throughout the year.
Create visual reminders.
At the start of each new year, a few close friends and I get together and create vision boards. We sip wine and cut out phrases like “get fit” and “head-to-toe healthy” as the latest episode of the Bachelor plays in the background. Once complete, I put my vision board on the fridge feeling confident that the previous year is behind me for good and I will only focus on all the great things in store from here on out.
If vision boards make you roll your eyes, I get it. Of course, magazine clippings glued to paper don’t predict your future. However, it’s never a bad idea to sit down and think about your goals and make plans on how to achieve them. Psychologically, having a daily visual reminder of your goals also helps you to focus, even when the voice in your head is telling you “Go ahead and smoke that cigarette, skip that run, give up on your dreams…”
This one is hard for me. When I first start to think about my goals, my mind tends to think big picture. For example, I’ll think something like, “I want to launch a new business this year” or “I want to get in great shape.” Those are great goals to have, but each requires a hundred different small actions in order to be successful. You can’t put “Launch a business” on a daily to-do list. Instead, focus on the actionable steps you can take to make the big picture goal a reality. The more specific and detailed, the better.
Be picky about your pack.
No one has a bigger influence on you than the people you most frequently surround yourself with. If you’re not spending time with goal-oriented individuals, you won’t get the support and accountability you need to succeed. Let your friends and family know about your goals and encourage them to pursue their own if they aren’t already. Sometimes people need a push to get going, but once they do they may end up lapping you in no time.
Take small steps.
I racked up a lot of credit card debt during and immediately following college. When I decide I was finally going to get the debt paid off, I thought the fastest way to do that was to pay off as much as I possibly could each month. Unfortunately, I was a newbie when it came to budgeting, so I usually ended up paying too much on the credit cards and running out of money before my next direct deposit hit. So, I’d have to use the credit cards again to get by until the next paycheck. The cycle was never-ending. Over time (and with the help of a financial planner because let’s be honest I’m still pretty bad at budgeting), I’ve learned that making small, but realistic payments get me to the end goal much faster.
When it comes to goals and resolutions, slow and steady wins the race. I admire anyone who can quit their vices cold turkey or achieve a large goal extremely fast, but that’s not ultimately an effective or long-lasting strategy for most of us. It’s the incremental steps that we take each day that gets us to the finish line the fastest.
Do you have any practices that help you stick to your goals and resolutions?