New Year’s resolutions are a funny thing, aren’t they? Everyone gets together and promises that this year they’re going to do better. They’re going to achieve this, change that and ultimately be fulfilled by the end of the year. Then the booze and excitement of the night before wears off. Reality hits. That goal you just saw the New Year in with, that seemed feasible, now seems like an overwhelmingly large mountain to climb. Sure, you might try and stick to it. Maybe even keep it up for a couple of weeks. Then life has its way of taking over, and eventually you give up. “I’ll try again next year,” you comfort yourself with. Wouldn’t it be great if you could change that? If you could set a New Year’s resolution and actually stick to it? How incredible would it feel to set a goal, put in the work, and achieve it? You don’t have to wonder. You can do it.
This year can be your year of change. It can be the year that you actually achieve your resolutions. Want to know how? Of course you do, you wouldn’t be reading otherwise. So here it is, 10 tips you can use to set a goal and achieve it.
1. Tell People about Your Resolutions
By telling people about your resolutions, you are consciously committing to them. Just think about it: If you’ve told someone you’re going to do something, people are going to be expecting you to do it. You’ve not just made the commitment to you, you’ve made it to everyone you’ve told.
Another nice benefit of telling people about your resolutions is the support that comes with it. When the right people know about your resolution, they’ll stand behind you in achieving it. They’ll act as a support net, to spur you on even when you think you can’t do it. This may seem to contradict what some scientists including Derek Sivers say, but if you read this article from an inspiration expert, you will see that what Sivers and others meant actually correlates with this point.
2. Clarify Your Resolutions
Ensure that your resolution can be actively tracked. Take, for example, a resolution of reading more. This is too vague. How will you know when you’ve achieved this goal? Will you be satisfied with reading a book once a month? A week? A day? The only way to know if you’ve achieved your resolution is by clarifying them so that they’re achievable.
If you want to read more, then you’re far better off setting a tangible and achievable goal — such as reading two books a month. You can track your progress, you’ll know if you’ve slacked on it, and you’ll know if you’ve achieved it! As thought-leader Michael Hyatt once explained, the clarification of goals makes them seem more feasible in your mind. You can find a very well-written post by him, on clarifying goals (in writing) here.
3. Make a Plan
Tying into point 2, about clarifying them. Once clarified, you can then create a plan to break down the clarified goal into smaller sub-goals that you can achieve daily. If you imagine your resolution as small, actionable steps, the achievement of the goal becomes a lot more feasible in your head.
Take the reading example. If you want to read 100 books a year, that could seem pretty overwhelming. If you break that down to reading one book every 4 days, it becomes a lot more realistic. This way you can also actively monitor your progress, and you’ll know whether or not you’re on target to meet it. You can find a great post explaining how setting goals helps, as well as how to adequately plan them, over at MindTools.
4. Re-Frame Your Resolutions
Your resolution should not be putting you down. Don’t allow your resolution to become a passive way of saying, “I won’t be good enough until I achieve this.” This is a sure-fire way to become demotivated by the idea of achieving them, and can really get you down in the long-run. Take a new perspective on goals. Remind yourself that you’re good enough, each and every day and that your goals are just serving as a means to be better. You’re not doing it to be enough, you’re doing it to be MORE. That’s the kind of perspective that really begins to push your preconceived limits.
5. Stop focusing on the end result
As Jeff Haden beautifully broke down in a post you can find here, when we commit to a goal, we really should commit to the process. The idea of the goals can often feel like we’re holding them at arms length. As though we should just achieve them and we’re done. When we commit to the process, the journey, of the goal, however, it’s a lot easier to make it an enjoyable experience.
The goal is in the distance, getting there is where our focus needs to be. You can’t constantly be looking at the map to see your end destination while driving, otherwise you’ll crash on the way there.
6. Know When to Take a Break
Burning out is a very real possibility when you’re not taking breaks. Find the time each day to let your mind relax. No goal or resolution should consume your mind from the moment of waking to the moment of sleep. Taking effective breaks has also been shown to increase our productivity.
With that said, checking your social media accounts and watching TV are not breaks for the mind – they’re probably more stressful. Meditate, sing, take a walk, have a shower, do a small workout or something similar instead. If you want to know more about the advantages of taking breaks, but don’t want to sift through an academic paper, there’s a great post on FastCompany that broke it down. You can find it here.
7. Push Yourself
There’s a great quote by Bruce Lee, that says:
“If you always put limits on everything you do, physical or anything else, it will spread into your work and into your life. There are no limits. There are only plateaus, and you must not stay there, you must go beyond them.”
How this relates to reaching your resolutions is very simple: there will be plateaus in your progress towards achieving them. There will be points where you’re uncertain that you can really achieve what you’ve set out to do. Not just in your New Year’s resolutions but in life, in general. This is where you need to push yourself. You can’t accept “no” for an answer. Dig deep, find the will within to push past the plateau. Discouragement can become fuel when we allow it to be. Setbacks can become fuel when we allow them to be. You’ve simply got to keep pushing. You will achieve it. Tell yourself you’ll excel. You’ll be surprised how much more capable you really are.
8. Reward yourself
Temptation bundling is a strangely, yet unsurprisingly, simple way to push yourself to achieve more. The premise is simple, tie what you want to achieve (but seem to be struggling to do so) with a reward, and get the reward each time you work towards the goal.
A good example, as demonstrated in this somewhat contradictory post, is your workout. If you really enjoy listening to audiobooks, but don’t like working out, and your resolution is to workout more frequently – limit your audiobook listening time to the gym. If you like your audiobooks enough, it’ll spur you on to actually go workout.
9. Don’t give in to the critic
You’re going to have doubters. They’re a part of life. So why not use them to motivate and encourage you? Now okay, it’s probably not best to be striving to achieve something out of spite, but as Collis Ta’eed outlines in his post about achieving more, people will try to bind you to their own self-set limitations. Take their criticism, and tell yourself that you’re not bound by what they’re bound to. Go out, make it happen, achieve it. Then, when all is said and done, go back to the critic and respectfully tell them of your achievement, and thank them for their help.
Not only will you have achieved something, but you have the potential to help another being evaluate why they’ve set such limits for themselves. It’s a win-win. (Plus you can be a little smug, but only a little.)
10. Celebrate Your Achievements
Forget what others think about it, if you’re happy about the progress you’re making, you have every right to celebrate it and shout it from the rooftops. It’ll only empower you to continue pursuing that goal. So there you have it, 10 tips for actually sticking to and achieving your New Year’s resolutions. If you liked this post, go ahead and share it or leave a comment.
Featured photo credit: resolutions via static.communitytable.com