Every January, millions of us go through the ritual of setting New Year’s Resolutions for the new year. Sadly, according to U.S. News, 80% of our New Year’s Resolutions will fail by February…
Now, there are countless reasons for why this happens. But regardless of what resolution you set, there are 2 important principles that will ensure your resolution doesn’t fall into this 80%:
#1. Make a Plan
Sounds simple enough. but it is amazing how many of us come up with a resolution, but don’t follow up with a plan on how to actually achieve said resolution. For every resolution that you set this year, come up with a plan on how to achieve it.
A simple example:
Resolution: Live Healthier
– walk at least 10,000 steps a day
– Use phone no more than 2 hours a day
A more complex example:
Resolution: Lose 10 Lbs
– walk at least 15,000 steps a day
– Run 20 miles a week
– Go to HIT (High Intensity Training) workout once a week
– Do intermittent fasting twice a week
If you’re not sure, then start with a simple plan. Most of us can probably come up with at least one tactic that we know will help us achieve our resolution. Start with one of the simple daily or weekly tactics that you know you can do. In the above examples, maybe just start with walking more steps every day. Once you’ve followed the plan for a few weeks, then add an additional tactic to the plan, follow the updated plan for a few weeks, and so on.
Plans should not be rigid – it’s okay to change them. If you live up north, running outside may be out of the picture for most of the winter. So go to the gym more in the winter, and adjust your plan to run outside more once the weather gets warmer. Or if you’ve hit 10K steps every day for the last 2 months, try raising it to 11K or 12K steps a day.
If you abandon your plan, then you have failed your resolution. Seems obvious enough. If you find that you can’t keep up with your plan, then change the plan. Don’t just give up entirely. Your objective when starting your resolution should be to come up with a plan that can realistically fit into your life. It’s rare that the first plan you try will be the best plan for you. It’s okay to try out a bunch of different plans before you finally find one that works.
#2. Track Your Progress
Once you’ve found your plan, you need to stick to it. Sounds easy enough, but you know, life can get in the way. The most important thing you can do to stay on top of your plan is to regularly track and check in on your progress. This will not only help you keep yourself accountable and honest, but it will also allow you to optimize your plan – figure out where you are doing well and where you need to improve. Some easy ways to do this include:
Check in on your resolution once a day. This should ideally take no more than a minute on most days. Quickly review your plan and log any progress you made. Did you do what you planned to do today? If not, is there still time today to finish this? If not, how can you make it up tomorrow? If after a few days or weeks you find that some parts of your plan turn out to be unrealistic, this is a good time to make those adjustments.
Make milestones on outcomes you care about and reward yourself for hitting milestones. If your resolution is to lose 10 lbs, then set a milestone for losing 5 lbs and reward yourself when you’ve hit that milestone. If you’re just trying to be more productive, reward yourself after you averaged fewer than 2 hours on your phone in the past 3 months.
Get your family and friends involved! Chances are you are not alone among your friends and family in setting New Year’s resolutions. Peer pressure is one of the best motivational tools you have. Use it! If your plan has you going out for runs, get your friends to run with you. Or challenge them to friendly competitions – like who can walk the most steps this month. Getting friends and family involved can make tracking your progress much less of a chore and makes the whole process much more enjoyable. So don’t be afraid to reach out!