Making Resolutions Stick

I love January – it’s like that brand new pack of loose-leaf paper we used to buy for school: blank, clean, brimming with possibility and opportunity. I’m not sure when the first new year resolutions were made or who made them, but like that paper, they are brimming with hopes of something better. The problem is many of us have trouble keeping our resolutions for a variety of reasons: they were so big it became hard to achieve success; we made so many resolutions, we actually caused ourselves stress trying to achieve success; or, we didn’t achieve immediate results and gave up.

Set yourself up for success

Make small goals and write them down – Maybe your overall goal is large, but then, create a list of smaller steps to reach it. For instance, my resolution is to use some minimalist strategies to de-clutter my home. That’s very vague, but I am creating smaller goals by creating a list of steps to tackle each room individually, knowing that I am not going to be completely “de-cluttered” in one month’s time. Many of us are encouraged by accomplishment so set your goals small enough to be checked off your list, but big enough to make an actual difference.

Be accountable – to yourself and to your loved ones. Keep a journal of what steps you have taken to achieve your goals, or simply check them off your list. Seek support from someone, even if it’s just checking in with a friend about your progress. Other ways to be accountable: set exercise dates with a friend or family member; eat your meals with someone else or write down everything you eat so you are accountable to you.

Give yourself incentives – rewards can keep you on track; but let it reflect your goals, not sabotage them. If weight loss is your goal, reward yourself with a new item of clothing (instead of a dinner out) when you’ve reached a milestone. Treat yourself to a movie or other favorite event when your monthly spending budget is back in the black.

Stick it out/ Maintain your focus

Reevaluate and take note –  Whether it’s daily, weekly or monthly, set a date to check in with your progress. Again, writing things down is a big key to success. Don’t just log where you’ve missed your mark, make notes of your successes and what made you feel proud or frustrated. Be aware of these during your next time period. Finally, reset yourself and your checklist for the upcoming week.

Detoxify – I’m not referring to the dietary cleanses whose advertisements you’ve probably been bombarded with in the new year. I’m referring to the things in your life and environment that can cause undue stress. Negative energy can be brought on by a disorganized or cluttered home (!), not paying attention to or tracking your finances, or high levels of emotional stress. Even conflicts with friends or family members can be toxic to your progress and overall health. Finding ways to manage or be rid of any of these toxins can create “space” in your life for positive energy.

Going back to my de-cluttering resolution: I currently feel overwhelmed by stacks of files and “paper-stuff” that makemy home and office un-tidy and makes me feel stressed about not being tidier. My hope for ridding my home of unnecessary clutter – and better organizing what I need to keep – is that I can let go of some of that negative energy wrapped up in the stress (or in berating myself for not being as tidy as I *should*), and create space in my life for positive possibilities like a new career path or relationship.

Ready, set, go!

So, how are YOU going to make your resolutions stick? How are YOU going to stand up for, and be accountable to, yourself? How are YOU going to be the best version of you that you can be?

If you have resolutions you’d like to share, or need help defining your goals, post them here. Here are some other relevant posts that might help you to set health and fitness goals:

Starting a new walking program: Ease on down that road

Make a lifestyle change your resolution

Imua: Small steps to reach your goal

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