I find it funny we try to begin New Year's resolutions during the coldest, darkest, longest months. Setting a goal when it's miserable to be outside, we're stuck indoors, and junk food seems far more appetizing seems ambitious, no doubt.
But just because New Year's Resolutions are harder to start this time of year doesn't mean they're impossible. They just need a little more oomph. We've compiled the top 20 tips for how to make your New Year's Resolutions last, and we know they'll help you accomplish a healthier, more productive, better 2023. Check them out below:
1. Set Resolutions for the Right Reasons
If you're serious about your resolution, deciding on the right one could change your entire year (and possibly your life). The key to finishing that long game is by starting for the right reasons - the ones that will sincerely motivate you.
For the longest time, I felt "motivated" to workout because I wanted to get that summer body. But for some reason, this motivation failed and I didn't follow through with my goals. I later realized this motivation was guilt-based - it came from a place of wanting to punish my body for not looking the way I wanted it to look.
Now, I workout because I want my body to be healthy and strong. It doesn't matter how I look - it matters that I'm taking care of my body. This motivation was way more impactful for me because it came from a place of loving my body - not hating it.
2. Be Realistic
I'm not saying don't dream big, but a small goal accomplished is better than a big goal failed. A good way to tell what a realistic standard might be for you is to look at failed resolutions in the past (we all have them). Look at your weak spots and adjust your goal this year to something you can accomplish easier.
The trick is staying ambitious while being realistic. Don't shoot too low and don't aim too high. You'll find your sweet spot through trial and error. Just don't beat yourself up if you have to aim a little lower this year - you're being realistic, and that's a huge accomplishment all by itself.
3. Don't Pick Too Many
You might have dozens of ways you want to improve, but before you start making a laundry list of resolutions, slow down. If you want to be serious about these goals, you can only pick a few.
Narrow down to your top 3. Then prioritize 1 as your central goal. You can still try to juggle 2, 3, or even 4 goals this year - but be mindful if they're pulling you in too many directions. If you have to drop one in order to finish another, that's okay! Again, accomplishing 1 goals is better than 5 or 6 half-finished ones.
4. Pros & Cons
When you're deciding what goals to pick this year, make a pros and cons list for each one. What are you sacrificing this year to accomplish your goal? Is that sacrifice worth it?
This practice also helps you stay realistic with your resolutions. You might find one or two of your goals looks far more daunting and costly after you make a pros & cons list for it - which is a good way to tell if a goal is accomplishable or not.
5. Be Specific
A common mistake when crafting New Years Resolutions? Making a goal so vague, even you don't know where to begin. Get specific with your goals. Instead of "lose weight" change it to "lose 10 pounds by July 1st." Instead of "eat healthier" change it to "no processed foods for 2023." Instead of "read more" change it to "read 20 books by the end of the year."
If your goal isn't specific, you won't know where to begin, or exactly when you've accomplished what you set out to accomplish. If you don't have a distinct finish line, running the race will seem pointless.
6. Write it Down
Once you decide on a realistic, accomplishable New Year's Resolution, write it down! Put it in your planner. Write it on a sticky note and tape it to your mirror as a reminder. You can even make it the background screensaver on your phone.
The goal here is to be reminded about your goal weekly, if not daily. Don't forget about it before February! Keep it fresh in mind at all times - and a great way to do that is by writing it down.
7. Visualize What Success Looks Like
Back when I played soccer, my coach used to make us lay down and visualize what success looked for us before each game. As a goalie, I'd always picture making a great save over and over again. This helped me so much because when the moment actually came, I had already visualized what it would look like to succeed in that moment.
Resolutions are the same way! Don't visualize failing (as our brains often trend). Picture what it will look like once you accomplish your goal, as well as the little wins along the way. When the going gets hard, you'll have an image to cling to and a future to work toward, a future you can truly visualize. That's a powerful thing.
8. Have an Accountability Partner
You can't accomplish big things alone. You're going to have weak moments, and in those moments it's essential to have a partner encourage you to keep going. This person can be your spouse, best friend, mentor - whoever will not only encourage you to keep going, but check in consistently and remind you why it's important to not give up.
Once you have an accountability partner, stay consistently in touch. Schedule to grab coffee with them at least once or twice a month. They won't let you slack if you see them often.
9. Keep a Resolution Together
Similar to an accountability partner, find someone to accomplish something together with. If you have an exercise goal, try accomplishing it with someone else (working out is more fun with 2). If you have a diet goal, doing it together will make you avoid your guilty pleasures if you know your partner is doing the same.
With a partner, you can shoot a quick text to one another each day asking "did you do ____ today?" Keeping a resolution together is like having an accountability partner on steroids. And it's more fun accomplishing things with friends, even if the things are hard!
10. Track As You Go
A great way to feel encouraged with your progress is to track as you go. Anyone else love the feeling of checking things off on your to-do list? If your resolution is daily, add it to your planner and check it off once it's accomplished. At the end of the month, review all the days you worked towards your goal - be proud of your progress!
Keep your tracking in a place you can see daily. Nothing is more encouraging and motivating than looking back at how far you've come already. And on those days you're not so motivated? You won't want to break your streak;).
11. Form a Plan
Part of creating a realistic resolution for yourself is forming a plan around it. Sit down sometime this month and ask yourself: "how am I going to accomplish this goal in a year? How can I break down that goal into twelve months? What can I do this month, this week, this day to step toward that goal?"
Create an overarching yearly plan, then break it down into a more detailed plan for each month, week, and day. It doesn't have to be complicated! As long as you have an idea of how to accomplish your goal each day in the future, you'll be set.
12. Plan for Obstacles
A great way to kill a New Year's Resolution is by thinking it will be easy. You'll trick yourself into expecting it to be smooth sailing, and as soon as the motivation dies you'll be quick to give up because you weren't expecting it to be so... not fun sometimes.
Plan for your obstacles. If you're following a diet this year, expect the holidays later on to be difficult. If you want to workout every day but have a vacation planned for this summer, expect it to be hard and create a plan for when you're there. Expect it to be tough, and when it is, you'll be prepared.
13. Break Your Resolution Down Into Easy-to-Accomplish Tasks
Your resolution is probably a bigger idea that can't be accomplished in one fell swoop. If you goal is anything like "gain 10 pounds of muscle" or "go sugar-free for a year," you'll need to break it down into smaller tasks you can accomplish daily.
Those tasks might look like "lift weights 4 days a week (legs, bis/tris, back, and chest)" or "get all sugar out of the house." Even those goals can be broken down further, like "on chest day, do ____ exercise for ____ reps and ____ weight." Chop your goals up into bite-sized pieces - they'll be easier to swallow that way.
14. Schedule Time Each Day to Work on Your Resolution
You can't accomplish anything if you don't make time for it. Set a specific time each day for your workout, meal prep, reading time, etc. Having a schedule will create a good habit of doing that thing daily, which will train your brain into wanting to do it consistently.
On the flip side, make sure you're flexible. If you don't get your workout done in the morning, it doesn't mean it's "too late" to do it today. You still have half the day ahead of you - make time to make it to the gym anyway.
15. Set Up Rewards
If you're making progress, you deserve to reward yourself, and not just because it's fun. Giving yourself a reward will motivate you even more to work hard in the future, and it makes a tough task just a little more fun.
A thing to note: make sure your rewards aren't the opposite of your goal (for instance, rewarding yourself with sugary ice cream if you're on a sugar-free diet, or giving yourself a week off working out if you're trying to do it every day). This will only train your brain to resist your resolution even more. Reward yourself with a new swimsuit if you're putting on muscle, or a new kitchen gadget to help with your healthy eating habits. Your rewards should build towards your goal, not set you back.
16. Set a Deadline
Any other procrastinators out there? If you're like me, no deadline means no progress. Give yourself a strict (but realistic) deadline for your goal and stick to it. Just because it's a "New Year's Resolution" doesn't mean it has to be on a year timeline. You might finish in June, you might finish in 3 years. Just set a deadline and work towards it.
Share your deadline with your accountability partner as well. They'll help you keep your eye on the prize before time runs out.
17. Start Each Day with Optimism
When your resolutions get difficult, it can be easy to think negatively about them. This will only create a habit of complaining and dreading your goals. Instead, start your day by reframing your mindset. Remind yourself why you set this goal for yourself, and how awesome it will be once you accomplish it.
Have a positive attitude about getting stuff done and accomplishing them will be a lot more fun. It's all in your mindset.
18. You Might Not Always Feel Like Doing It... Do It Anyway
Just like it's smart to prepare for obstacles, it's just as smart to prepare for the times you don't feel motivated. There are going to be a lot of days you don't feel like doing it. That's normal!
Even if you don't feel like doing something, that doesn't mean you can't do it. Buckle down and show up anyway. A mantra in our family is "even if you don't feel like going to the gym, just show up. Once you're there, you won't want to leave without doing something productive." Just show up.
19. Review Your Successes Every Night, Not Your Failures
At the end of the day, you'll be tempted to dwell on all the ways you failed that day. Of course you could have done better - we all could have. But you also could have done a lot worse, and you should be proud of what you accomplished that day.
Recall all the wins that day. End the day with a positive outlook. You'll be much more motivated to do better tomorrow if it comes from a place of thankfulness rather than guilt.
20. Give Yourself Grace
At the end of the day, don't beat yourself up. You can't be perfect, and you're going to have cheat days. Push yourself, work hard, and try your absolute best. But past that, give yourself grace for the mistakes you will make (and you will make them).
It's admirable you're wanting to improve to begin with, so give yourself a pat on the back. Hopefully these tips help you accomplish what you want this year! Here's to 2023 - you got this 💪
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