The upcoming holidays present a wonderful opportunity to pause our hectic lives and take a moment to appreciate family, friends and ourselves. One holiday custom that gives us an excuse for self-reflection comes at the end of the year. Often associated with the Times Square ball drop, staying up till midnight and singing Auld Lang Syne is the declaration of New Year’s resolutions. While resolutions are different from one person to the next, they all reflect ideals, desires, and wants. From losing weight to quitting smoking, resolutions are an aspect of our lives that we wish to alter – but so often they are quickly forgotten or short-lived. So how DO you keep your New Year’s resolutions? Here are some tips for making your change come to fruition.
Make your goal very specific
There is a difference between a resolution to “lose weight” and a resolution to “lose 10 lbs.” Further, specifying mini-goals along the way can help you keep up your motivation. For example, your first mini-goal could be to lose 5 pounds, allowing you to celebrate along the way and stay motivated. Having mini-goals and a clear end-point makes the resolution seem less overwhelming and daunting.
Make your goal measurable
Another common mistake made when setting a goal is a lack of measurability. By making it something you can measure, it is clear when you are making progress. For example, if your goal in 2018 is to “be healthier,” what exactly does that look like? How will you know when you are “healthier?” If your goal was “to be healthier by exercising 3x a week and eating at least one serving of fruit and vegetables a day” – you will know when you are achieving your goal by counting gym trips and recording food consumption. If you cannot observe active progress towards your goal, that can feel deflating and demotivating.
Positive rewards are an important part of reconditioning behavior. By reinforcing your actions, you are much more likely to do them again. For example, if your target behavior is to quit smoking, for every week that you don’t smoke, use the money that you would have spent on cigarettes on something you really want. This acts as a reinforcement for the week of choosing to not smoke AND it’s a motivator during the week to not pick up a cigarette.
Don’t go it alone
People are much more likely to follow through with their actions if they have someone to witness the process. Having an audience creates accountability. This could be finding a gym buddy, sharing your goals with your friends, or posting your progress on Facebook.
Whatever your goals for 2018 might be, finding ways to keep yourself motivated and committed are important aspects to goal achievement. Find what works for you! Good luck, and everyone at Etheridge Psychology wishes you a very happy New Year!