Everyone always begins the New Year with the same rejuvenated spirit of excitement as the year before. The opportunity to make new changes and investments propels us into comprising a list of goals and expectations. What we often like to forget about, however, is how hard it is to keep that momentum of life-altering energy going after the joy of the holidays evaporates. When work, school, and everyday life are re-introduced to us like a long lost annoying cousin, we lose sight of the progress we would like to make in the new year and fall right back into our routines until next December.
The question is, how do people actually maintain momentum and achieve their goals? How can only nine percent of people confidently claim they met their expectations? While I am also guilty of this infamous tradition, below are small, practical ways that I have found that can maximize your success in finishing the year stronger than you started.
Make Your Goals Realistic & Specific
With the excitement of the holidays still lingering over us, Christmas music still flowing through our heads, we want to keep that feeling alive and begin to make unrealistic goals that will make us feel better about ourselves. Instead of claiming to get in shape, which by itself is horribly broad, make a reachable and direct claim. I want to be able to run a mile without falling to exhaustion. I want to eat better and cut down on junk food. I want to read ten books by summertime. By placing restrictions and time frames on our resolutions, we offer structure to a once unrealistic, empty promise.
Approach Your Goals with Patience
One thing that the 21st century has provided us is the access to instantaneous information on the Internet. We have come to expect information and change right at this moment, without a second of hesitation. Human beings, the fickle creatures we are, have not adapted to change that quick just yet. Gradual, consistent movement towards a goal will be monumentally more efficient than one abrupt move without commitment. We run on habits, and the only way to change them is with patience and determination.
Get Someone Else Involved with You
While humans have come to enjoy the isolation of the Internet, we are still community-driven beings. Finding solace in the company of other people is one habit we have yet to break, thankfully. Since we are so communal, we hold a stronger promise to follow through with others than we do for ourselves. As you journey through your resolutions, reach out to a family member, significant other, or a friend. Talk about what you both want to accomplish and the steps it will take. Working through your plan aloud with someone else allows us to validate our plan while also having someone to hold us accountable beside ourselves.
Make A “Memory Box”
This one can go hand-in-hand with involving someone else, but you can also do it by yourself if you feel reliable on your own. As you are making your list of realistic expectations, take every single resolution you write down and put it in a box, safe, or empty wine bottle. Cover, lock, or re-cork your yearly time capsule, and place it somewhere that will not tempt you to open it. Then, on the eve of the upcoming year, you can open it with your loved ones and see all of the things you promised yourself to finish. Knowing there is a physical location of your resolutions gives them a stronger meaning because you physically took the time to write and place each one for revealing to yourself in a year. It can help to provide encouragement to do the things you want to achieve, but also if you do it with someone else it adds excitement to the challenge of staying true to your goals. In addition, when writing your resolutions, I want you to change your definitive verb from want to begin using will. Wanting something brings it into existence eventually; willing something creates the self-determined responsibility to make the change yourself.
Not Falling Back Into The Rut
Let’s face it; no human being is wholly perfect by any means. We all have our faults. We all stumble from time to time. What is important to remember, in all aspects of life as well as with resolutions, is to always get back up. Life will bring trial and conflict, but through each failed attempt and setback is a lesson in disguise. You must be flexible and resilient if you are to achieve your resolutions. You cannot fall into the mentality of “all-or-nothing:” A step forward may not be a mile, but it is closer than you were before.
The New Year can bring exciting changes to your life, but it will take an adjustment of perspective on habits and the process of change to enjoy it truly. Through patience and determination, goals can be achieved, lives can change, and self-confidence can flourish. It all starts with you, though. Go out there and live the life you crave, and don’t forget to share your voyage along the way.