Keeping the New Year’s Resolutions Throughout the Year

Jan 5, 2021 | Being Kind to Yourself

We have created our New Year's Resolutions for 2021. But, how do we make the stick? Asking yourself "why" we need the change and digging deeper helps us understand why we need to do this. Creating the timeline and list…

Welcome to the New Year!

It’s January That means it is time for the annual New Year’s Resolutions.  The time of the year that we make promises to ourselves that we know that probably won’t keep. Yet, every year, we give ourselves goals with unrealistic expectations or timelines.

What if this year we change that? What if we actually keep those promises to ourselves to make some changes? Not all, but some. What if this really is your year?

When I filmed my “Tip Tuesday” video for today, I suggested the following tips – ask yourself why you want to make the change, create a timeline with a list of pros and cons, and give yourself grace and allow for mistakes. For writing this blog, doing my research, everywhere I looked stated a list of 7 to 10 tips for how to be successful. Common theme – “failing to plan means planning to fail.”

Get Uncomfortable with Your Why?

Let’s first dive into why we make these promises, or resolutions, every year and don’t stick to them? Are they too unrealistic?

According to a study cited in the article by Kendra Cherry, “only around 12% of people who make New Year’s resolutions felt that they were successful in achieving their goals.” Why is that?

Let’s start with that exact question – “why.” Why do we constantly, year after year, create these resolutions, only to break them after a few days, weeks or a month or two? Are the goals too general? Lose weight? Sure, but how much and what is your plan?

But, ask yourself “why.” Why do I want to lose weight? Why do I need to move more? Why do I need to be more present? Why do I need to stop smoking (or drinking or gambling or spending or whatever)? Why?

What is your why? Using the superficial, easy go to resolutions every year won’t work unless you dive deeper into why you want to change this behavior. Let’s use “losing weight” as the example.

Sure, losing weight is easy to say. But, how much? And, really, why do you need to lose it? It is just to look better at an upcoming event? Or, is there something deeper that is driving you? Ask yourself the tough questions. Get uncomfortable with the truth. Only then, you can really know what is making you want this. Will losing weight help you sleep better? Will losing weight help you have more energy for your children? Will losing weight help you get healthier and avoid chronic illnesses that come with excess weight – cancer, diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure? Will losing weight help stop the slide into hereditary illnesses or an early death that your parents or other family members have suffered from?

Create at Timeline

Once you get uncomfortable, you can create your timeline.

However, you need to set a deadline for that timeline. When is your date to start? Did you really NEED to start on January 1? According to a article, picking a start date when you are ready – rested, excited, have the right support. Preparation is key. Are you able to push your start date from January 1 to February 1 so that you are better prepared? Doesn’t matter if you started. If you weren’t ready then, you will now have a list of things to prepare for your new start date. Just don’t give up completely.

As you are setting your start date, you want to make sure you create the list of pros and cons. Building on your why. What are the benefits of this change? What are cons, or reasons why not to? Or better yet, use your pros and cons list to tell you when you ARE ready, so that you can be successful – when you see your benefits list start to outweigh your negative list, then you know you it’s time for action.

In addition to the start date, what is your end date? Are you expecting to see immediate results? When is that time to check in with yourself? What are your markers for success? Do you have a rolling timeline?

For me, when I start something new, I look at what I want overall, and what are my milestones? Just like the old saying, “Rome wasn’t built in a day.” Neither were your habits that you want to adjust. It takes time to see the results. And, that is OK.

Let’s look at a sometimes-popular resolution – run a marathon (or half marathon or a 5K). Given where I live, in the Great Lakes region, training for a spring marathon might not be ideal (if you aren’t a runner to start with) because the weather doesn’t always know what our training plan calls for – who wants to train in an icy snowstorm or below zero temperatures? Planning a fall marathon might be more ideal, with the training beginning in March or April. Adjusting our goals to fit the time of year and our mindset can make the world of difference.

Don’t Give Up!

Last big question – what happens when you slip up and fall backwards a little bit? Do you throw your hands up and give up? Or, do you show yourself some grace, pick up the pieces and move on to the next day?

For me, that’s the hardest! There are days that I do want to just give up and frequently ask myself “what’s the point?” But, would we say that to our friends or our children? No, we would say something like “that’s okay, tomorrow is another day, try again.” Or, we can use our slip to identify the trigger that sent us off course and learn from that mistake.

That’s the great thing about setting new year’s resolutions – we really have all year to achieve our goals. We cannot just give up after the first 25 days or three months. According to the Thriving to Change authors James and Janice Prochaska, change doesn’t happen in 21 days; it takes longer.

Celebrate the Small Stuff!

The other big thing I need to mention is that we need to celebrate those wins! Small successful steps and victories! Picture this year as a marathon. Each day is a training day. Some days we are our best. Some days we stay under the covers in our cozy bed. Want to lose weight – success means passing up that free sample of fatty goodness at the big box store so you don’t go end up with three boxes in your cart at the checkout (experience has taught me to not make eye contact with the server). We can not pin ourselves into an “all or nothing world.” Celebrate the good, celebrate the bad and just keep moving forward.

Our goals for this year should be preparing ourselves to be in the right mindset to make the change. And picking the right time of year to start that change.

Now that we have a few tips under our belt, we are so ready to make 2021 our year. To make it successful. Remember, don’t set too loft goals, focus on one or two things, make sure you are ready and celebrate every since small win, so that you can call 2021 your year!