Resolutions, like rules, are made to be broken. Of course, there are some crazy people who actually keep the things, but I don’t associate with them because they make me feel bad.
I kid. Sort of.
The main reason many people don’t keep their resolutions is because they’re large, macro-level promises that are hard to apply on a daily level. For example, “I’ll learn a language”, is a harder, less specific commitment to follow through on than “I will practice this language for 20 minutes on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays”.
In truth, resolutions are often purposefully vague for this reason. It gives you leeway to fail.
So if you want to join me in really changing stuff this year, here are a few tips to follow:
1. Be Specific
New Year’s resolutions are usually made in a post-Christmas frenzy in which you attempt to atone for going a bit overboard on the bubbly and Christmas cake. This year, instead of wildly optimistic promises to change your life forever and be better in every way, focus on one small, specific thing that might actually be feasible.
For example, instead of swearing you’ll become a marathon runner by 2017, create a reasonable exercise schedule that you can stick to even in crappy weather or when you’re not feeling the best.
2. Start Small
Don’t attempt to overhaul everything about your life instantly. Extremes are hard to stick to, and much as you think the cold turkey approach works for you, it probably doesn’t if you properly examine it. Pick something small and reasonable to work on.
3. Create Habits
Do something small and specific regularly. If you can commit to something daily, or at least for a set number of times per week, you’re going to soon wonder how you ever managed without this new habit you created. Come next New Year’s Eve, you can proudly embark on something new, having achieved (and maintained) last year’s goal.
4. Make It Fun
We tend to look on resolutions as a chore. But don’t! Look on your decision as a chance to become more you than you’ve ever been. Change isn’t easy, but it doesn’t have to be painful. Try to find something that you enjoy about your resolution, and hold onto the fun aspects of it.
5. Embrace Difficulty
It’s going to be hard – no question. We’re creatures of habit, and while change is exhilarating but very, very challenging. Enjoy that feeling of struggle. It shows you that you’re trying and that change is on the way! You’re already winning.
6. Limit Yourself
Don’t make an ultra-long list. Tempting as it is to solve all of your perceived flaws in one fell swoop, you’re far more likely to succeed if you stick to a manageable set of tasks. If you achieve your goals quickly, you can re-assess your resolutions mid-year and set an upgrade for your goals.
Remember, it’s a process. No one will forever stick to a resolution all the time. Give yourself permission to falter, but make sure to get back on the horse each time. Only by persevering through the difficult times will you truly be able to make a change.
Here’s to 2016!