If your New Year’s resolutions are off to a slow start, you may need a dose of inspiration. It’s no secret that self-improvement is difficult, but with some hard work and creativity, it can be anything but impossible. The key is learning how to set goals that are realistic and measurable.
Here are some of the best techniques for making resolutions and sticking to them:
Make it personal
It’s easier to keep your resolution when it is directly linked to values and beliefs that are important to you. This may take a little soul-searching, but the process will be worth it in the end. Once you have connected with your core values, make a list of specific goals that will reinforce them.
Explore your options
Try not to set yourself up for failure. To avoid ending up with a bucket list instead of a goal, make sure you have some things at the top of your list that are possible for you to accomplish in any given year. Alternatively, make sure there are some things on your list that are not so easily attainable but are still very important (e.g. buying a house).
Set a realistic deadline
If you’re going to set yourself a deadline, make sure it is one that will realistically fit your needs. Don’t put off completion of your goals until you manage to become the next Mark Zuckerberg.
Set different goals for different areas of your life
If you’re hoping to get back into shape this year, make sure that you set yourself a goal that will actually can be reached. Choosing a resolution that applies to your career is not going to help you get promoted if you don’t change the way that you do your job, as long as the rest of your resolutions are successful.
Don’t just focus on one thing
You should have different goals in mind for different aspects of life. Your relationships might make you want to set small goals, such as wanting to go out and have a drink with your friends more often. Stay focused on your goals, and you’ll be able to achieve them.
Don’t let fear dictate your actions
We often put off trying to achieve our goals because of fears that we might fail and feel embarrassed afterwards. But if you don’t try, how will you know whether or not you succeeded? You could be putting off the very thing that would let you know that your resolutions weren’t actually failures but just necessary steps in the right direction.
If trying something new frightens you, then use that as a way to motivate yourself. Think of the possibility that your resolution might not work out, and embrace that fear as a way to push you towards your goal.
Take your time
Good things takes time. At times you may feel that you need to take big steps in order to achieve your goals. However, each step you take should be measured and done at a pace that will enable you to reach the end result.
Learn from your mistakes
Make sure your new resolution isn’t something you have failed at in the past by taking note of what went wrong last time around instead of re-inventing the wheel every year. You may need to tweak your focus or set a totally different goal to achieve what you’re after.
Don’t try to keep everything going at once
You’re not Superman; you don’t have the ability to do everything at once. Make sure that you don’t try to accomplish all of your big resolutions within a single year, because if you do, you may end up missing some deadlines or even giving up on them entirely. Instead, create a list of things that you want to accomplish (and aren’t too complicated) for different parts of your life (e.g. investing in a company while keeping one foot in the workforce).
Reward yourself when you do well
This is something that a lot of people overlook, but it’s very important. Everybody deserves a reward now and then. Sometimes, the reward (such as buying a new outfit for example) will be related to your resolution. But sometimes, you can simply give yourself a pat on the shoulder for doing something well or achieving your goal.
Don’t give up too soon
Even if you don’t feel good about your progress, don’t abandon your resolution right away. You might not realize that something is going wrong until you really put yourself into it, and giving up too soon might mean that you won’t be able to fix it.
Seek help from others
Sometimes, we can get stuck in a rut when we try to work on our own resolutions. However, even if you have a big social network, there are times where they will be of little use to you (e.g. no one will be able to tell you how to get into an Ivy League college). Seek out the help of professionals or people who have already achieved what you want to achieve.
Sometimes, your resolutions can feel more like chores than something enjoyable. This is because we tend to think of them as tasks that have to be completed before they count, and not activities that we can look forward to doing. If you’re looking for a way to keep yourself motivated in the long-run, make sure that you have someone else involved (such as a friend or mentor) so that you have someone who will enjoy working on your goal as much as you do.
Be realistic, but still be ambitious
Most people will only succeed at small resolutions (e.g. trying to lose weight), while others will be able to accomplish something huge (e.g. leaving their job for a better one). Be realistic and keep your goals focused on what is realistically doable eventually, as long as you’re constantly working on them. But also try your best to exceed the standards that you set for yourself.
Don’t focus on the end result
Focus on what you have to do now. Thinking about the end result can be very distracting and might make you lose sight of what you’re doing right now. Make sure that you are focusing on the present, and only do so because you want to accomplish your vision, not because the future is so appealing that it makes you forget about your day-to-day life.
Take one step back
Sometimes, failing at a resolution can be the best thing for us. If we keep trying to get back into our comfort zone or we aren’t willing to change something when we need to, then we might end up getting stuck there forever. Try your best to take one step back instead of two steps forward, and see if you can make a better plan of action.