Did you know that approximately 80% of New Year’s resolutions fail by February?
That’s a discouraging stat, by any standards. However, that doesn’t mean we should abandon resolutions all together. Nor should we stop recognizing a new year as a significant event- a new beginning.
The start of a new year is always an exciting time and can be a very positive stage for many people and making resolutions is a way for some to redefine their life…even if only in small ways…even if they fail by February.
We’re all guilty of listing things to be accomplished and achieved in a new year and then falling short of those things. That’s okay. The beauty is in the attempt, right? Sure. And there are plenty of self-help books out there that might teach you some strategies to finally reach those goals this year. But here’s a real strategy: Reflect first. Then resolve.
Before you attempt that “2019 Resolutions” list in the Notes on your iPhone, take time to reflect on 2018. Good or bad, there are always lessons to be learned from the previous 365 days that can impact and improve the next 365 days. Then, get inspired to make this year even better than last.
So, as February- and that 80% statistic- looms, here’s Wildway’s guide to beating the odds and making those resolutions stick this year:
- Look back at 2018
Take a glance at your list from last year.
Which resolutions did you check off? Which ones did you not reach? Did you get real close on some of them? Were there a couple that you just completely forgot about?
Now, try to understand why.
Why was #1 so easy to stick to, but #7 was impossible? Why was “Workout 5 days a week” more doable than “Read more books?”
The answers to those questions will tell you a lot. It will reveal your motivations. It will help you understand what’s important to you. It will help you see what areas need more attention or where you need to shift your focus this year.
Looking back at 2018 will allow you to see your growth and progress. It will show you that you are not the same person you were a year ago. You changed in the last 12 months and you can change in the next 12 months too.
- Be realistic
There is nothing wrong with having lofty goals. In fact, it’s a good thing. Those high aspirations will push you and make you strive to do more and be better. But, don’t get too carried away. Now, I’m an optimist. I really am. So, before you go and write this step off to cynicism, hear me out.
Shooting for the moon might land you in the stars, but it could also land you back on earth where you started. Setting unrealistic goals and not meeting them leads to disappointment and discouragement, hindering you from achieving your other resolutions.
Don't set yourself up for failure. Know yourself and be realistic about what you want to accomplish... what you can accomplish. Then go straight for those stars. After that, you can shoot for the moon.
- Make more measurable resolutions
Some resolutions fail because there’s no real quantifiable way to tell what you’re accomplishing. It’s hard to meet goals that you can’t measure and it’s discouraging to fall short of something that you didn’t really know how to achieve in the first place. So, make your resolutions measurable.
When I make my resolutions every year, I have usually two different types: aspirational and actionable. The aspirational ones are those far-reaching, lofty goals I was talking about in Step 2. The “change the world,” “make a difference,” type resolutions. Again, those are important, and they help you in your efforts to better yourself. Don’t leave them out. But don’t expect to always accomplish them either.
On the other side of my list are the actionable goals. These are the “lose 10 lbs,” “read 20 books,” resolutions. See the difference? No, it’s not that they’re easier (some would easier change the world than they would want to read 20 books), but it’s that they are measurable. There is a clear definition and an obvious objective. When December 31st rolls around and I look back at my list, these are the resolutions that I will have stuck to and checked off.
So, look back at last year. Which ones did you check off the list? Was it the ambiguous, “Help others,” or was it the “Volunteer once a month?” Then, make sure that your 2019 plans include more of those measurable goals, because it’s a whole lot easier to run a race when you know there’s a finish line.
- Get help
Accountability is hard. Especially when it’s just you. So, get a little help.
Share some of your goals with a friend. Show your list of resolutions to a family member. Post it on your Facebook page if that’s your thing! Just find someone to keep you on track. Someone to text you every night asking, “Did you spend some time outside today?” Someone to smack that donut out of your hand. Someone to be your gym buddy. Someone to go volunteer with you. Someone to aid you in your mission for a better 2019.
Did you do this last year? Does anyone know what you wanted to accomplish in 2018? Did they help you? Did that extra accountability help? I bet it did.
If you didn’t get help last year, it’s not too late for this year. Do what you need to do to ensure that someone else knows what you’re aiming for in 2019 and can help you along the way.
- Be kind to yourself
If you’re anything like me, you’re pretty hard on yourself. You cannot stand to fall short of a goal, miss a deadline, or let someone down- even yourself. You take your New Year’s resolutions seriously. I get it, I’m like that too. But, remember to be kind to yourself.
Like I said at the beginning, sometimes the beauty is in the attempt. It really is true. Sometimes you have to remind yourself that you’re trying. You are trying to improve. You’re not just accepting this version of yourself, you’re believing that you can be better and you’re doing what you can to be that better version.
If you glance back at 2018 and all you see is what you didn’t achieve, you’re setting yourself up for another year of coming up short, missing deadlines, and let-downs. Don’t do that.
Instead, remember all that you did do in 2018 and congratulate yourself. Then, take on 2019 with that same mindset. Be nice to yourself. Why beat yourself up over missing leg day when you can just do 20 squats as you read this blog?
The point of reflecting before you resolve is so you can move forward. As you delete “2018 Resolutions” from your Notes and look to this year’s list, take some time for reflection. Get real with yourself, make some goals you can actually measure and check off, get some help, and don’t beat yourself up. Look at last year, learn from it, pat yourself of the back, and trudge on in 2019.