How To Successfully Keep Your New Year’s Resolutions

We all know the tired clichés about how we’re all so gung-ho at fulfilling our resolutions in January, but not so much by the time we get to February, and how we forget all about them for the rest of the year. Until, of course, we get to the last week of December, when we set ourselves up for failure once again, just like all those years before.

So after all those years of planning, hoping, and eventually failing to be better versions of ourselves, all we’ve got to show for it are some discarded diet plans, a handful of unfinished personal projects, and an obscene amount of wasted money on seldom-used gym memberships. We’re trapped in a vicious cycle just like everybody else.

But see that’s the thing—we don’t have to be ‘like everybody else’. It’s hard, of course. Easy is for ‘everybody else’. But with a little bit of planning, a proper mindset, and a healthy dose of willpower, we can see our resolutions through for 365 days and beyond, and finally rise above all our previous years of futility and failure.

Plan your resolutions according to these guidelines below and you’ll have a better chance of success. This applies not just to new year’s resolutions, of course, but to all of your life plans as well.

Be realistic.

Don’t say you’ll go to the gym every day, or quit smoking cold turkey, or just eat within a six hour span doing intermittent fasting. The more drastic the plan, the harder it is to do, and the more likely it is that you will fail.

Take baby steps—go to the gym once a week for a start, reduce your cigarette sticks per day, and steadily lessen your food portions. Only you would know what you’re actually capable of so be realistic in setting your goals. Your body and your pride will thank you for it.

Be concrete.

The more specific you are with your plan, the better. Don’t just say you’re not going to stay up late binge-watching; say you’re not going to stay up later than 11:00 PM. Don’t just say you’re going to eat less; say you’re skipping desserts or afternoon snacks.

Setting a clear measurable goal means you have something solid to strive for, and it’s easily adjustable. If 11:00 PM is too hard, make it 11:30. If merely skipping snacks is too easy, try skipping dinner.

Be consistent.

The reason why gyms are full in January and empty come February is because we’re all excited and enthusiastic at the start, and then we lose interest. We all know it’s about willpower, but it’s also about our innate attraction to novelty.

It’s kind of the same way we’re passionate about a new relationship, or thrilled about a new job, or excited about a new toy. But then our interest tapers off with the passage of time, and sometimes, we lose it completely.

With regards to resolutions, the key to being consistently interested is to always be motivated; and to be motivated, it’s enormously helpful to have a visual of the end result you’re aiming for. It may be an old photo of you with your desired weight, or the trails and mountains you plan to hike when you’re in better shape after you stop smoking.

Keeping your eyes on the prize is an effective way of keeping yourself determined and motivated.

Be flexible.

It’s been said that life happens while we’re busy making other plans, and we all know it’s true. Something happens at work that gets you super stressed, and it becomes harder to quit smoking. Your mother visits you and cooks all your favorite dishes, and it becomes impossible to stick to your diet. Your favorite series suddenly has a new season, and you’re compelled to stay up late and binge watch.

Some people would call them tests or temptations but really, it’s just life. It’s up to you how you will adjust your plans but here’s something you should remember: resolutions don’t always have to be at the start of the year. You start your new routine on any day, on any week, on any month, whenever you’re ready, willing, and able.

Take it easy on yourself.

We’ve all had that mindset: you missed a day at the gym, you failed; you smoked one cigarette, you failed; you pigged out at a buffet, you failed. We always have a tendency to think in absolutes when the world we live in is hardly black and white.

Giving in and smoking a stick in January doesn’t mean you have to give up and smoke for the whole year, nor does skipping a workout mean you don’t show up at the gym ever again, nor does pigging out once mean you have to ditch the diet.

Just start over. Stick with it, and you’ll see that come June, you’ll still be proud to say that you haven’t smoked since February 16.

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio