Get ready, because this article’s a longer one. If you’re ready to finally learn how to keep those New Year’s resolutions of yours, then make a cup of tea, grab a snack, and get ready for a meaningful chat about goal-setting. If you just want a quick list of resolution ideas, scroll on to the bottom!
“I Love Making New Year’s Resolutions, But Am So Bad at Following Through on Them!”
It happens every year. Autumn’s colors slowly fade, the snow comes quickly, and before you know it, December’s here. With December’s arrival, people around the globe become excited at the prospect of a new beginning, including us Rexburg-ians. A chance to start again. “This year,” we tell ourselves, “I’m going to change my life.”
“I’m finally going to take off the pounds.”
“This is the year I’m finally going to learn that language.”
“I’m finally going to start saving money.”
Yet often, we fall short of these goals.
Have you ever heard of Blue Monday? It occurs on the third Monday of every January and, though not scientifically proven, some people say it’s the most depressing day of the year.
“Why?” you might ask.
There are several contributing factors, including miserable weather and our holiday cheer wearing off – but the most interesting factor (in my opinion) is that it’s supposedly by that point that the average person has already given up on their New Year’s resolutions. In fact, according to Forbes, half of Americans set aside goals for the new year, and only 8% actually achieve their resolutions.
Yikes! So you might be asking yourself “How Do I Follow Through on My Goals This Year?”
There are several steps you can take to ensure that you follow through on your goals this year. We compiled five of the most effective ways!
1. Prepare for Change
This won’t be a sprint. In order to execute long-lasting goals, you need to mentally prepare yourself for gradual change. Purchase a notebook specifically for your resolution journey, and start it off by taking inventory from last year. Ask yourself:
- Did I make significant progress with my New Year’s resolutions last year? If so, what did I do that helped me achieve my goals? If not, what obstacles did I encounter that made the goal harder for me to prioritize?
- What is my attitude when approaching resolutions? Am I creating goals that I truly think will make me happy, or am I creating them for the approval of someone else?
If your New Year’s resolutions are important to you, you will need to change something about your current life in order to make it happen. It might mean substituting some social media time or late-night Netflix binges in favor of prioritizing your goal. Recall the times you accomplished something important to you, and use those happy feelings to motivate your progress moving forward!
2. Make S.M.A.R.T. Goals
Following up on our first point is the importance of making these goals attainable and clearly defined. You want your resolution(s) to be S.M.A.R.T. goals, or otherwise known as Specific + Measurable + Achievable + Realistic + Time-Bound. We’ll use weight loss as an example because it’s one of the most common resolutions people make each year!
Let’s say your goal this year is to lose weight. Just writing “lose weight” in your notebook is not enough to motivate you. What does “lose weight” mean for you? Is it losing 10 lbs or 50 lbs? Is it shaving an inch off your waist? What specifically do you want to change?
Next, you need to look at what you will specifically do in order to accomplish this goal. You decided that “lose weight” really means “lose 10 pounds before my sister’s wedding in six months.” Now, how will you accomplish that change? Will you go to the gym three times a week? Will you create a calorie deficit calculated based off of your height, weight, and activity level?
Ask yourself if you have access to the tools necessary to complete this goal. Do you have a calorie counting tool that will help you input your daily food intake? If not, do you have access to the internet so you can research the nutritional values of the foods you eat? Do you have access to a gym? If not, do you have access to running shoes and home weights?
Once you create this specific and measurable goal, assess whether or not it’s realistic. Again, let’s say you want to lose 10 lbs in six months. If our calculations are correct, you would need to consume a daily deficit value of 192 calories. Is it possible that you can cut out 200 calories from your day?
Finally, your goal has to be time-bound. But what the heck does that mean? Similar to the “specific” section, a time-bound goal has a time by which you want to make specific progress. Let’s say your goal is something that can be checked off a list once you accomplish it, like the 10 lb goal – when do you want that box checked by? When will you evaluate your progress before then?
If your goal is not something that can be checked off a list, ask yourself how often you want to contribute to that progress? For example, instead of checking off a box when you lose 10 lbs, maybe you want to learn a new language. It’s much harder to pinpoint when you’re considered “fluent,” so instead – how often will you evaluate your progress with it? Is it a weekly review every Sunday? A once-a-month check in? Some
3. Get a System in Place
One surefire way to fail at your New Year’s resolutions is to not writ
e them down. In order to keep yourself accountable, find ways to remind and reward yourself in keeping those goals. Some inexpensive office supplies we recommend for this are a calendar and note-taking system.
Why this equipment? One thing that we’ve seen work in the past is a reward system, and that reward can be as simple as checking something off a list. Crossing items off a to-do list actually releases a small amount of dopamine throughout your body. Because dopamine is considered the “happiness chemical”, this acts as a reward to your brain.
So grab that notebook and write down your goals. Create a list of the resolutions you want to work on, the specific goals you want to accomplish, and when you get them done, check those bad boys off your list! One way to stay on track with your daily reminder is to hang up your calendar on a wall you pass by often, and check off each day if you contributed something tangible to your goals. It’s also a great way to visualize patterns for productivity.
4. Don’t Tell People About Your Goals
“Wait, what? But Explore Rexburg, shouldn’t we tell people about our goals so they can hold us accountable?”
Having an accountability partner can be an asset to reaching your goals. However in order to really be effective, that person needs to be completing the goal with you. While our friends and family will support us in accomplishing our goals, ultimately they will not be the ones waking us up at 5:00 a.m. saying “Hey, remember how you said you’d wake up at 5:00 a.m. to run a mile every morning? Come on, get up!”
There’s research to support the idea that keeping your goals to yourself will actually make you more likely to achieve them. This is because it gives you a premature sense of accomplishment due to an increase in your intention-behavior gap.
Once you start telling people your goals, you feel like you’ve already taken a step towards accomplishing it when you actually haven’t, thus feeling proud of yourself for an action you haven’t taken. In turn, this actually demotivates you to take the next step in the process because you have already identified yourself as a person who does XYZ (your goal), and therefore don’t need to work as hard in making that dream a reality.
5. Review Your Progress Regularly
It’s important to review your journey to make sure you’re progressing in these accomplishments, but it’s also just as important to check in and make sure that you’re not working so hard that you burn out. Maybe in a previous New Year fervor you were so excited about a resolution that you made it your number one priority, but couldn’t keep up with it for the rest of the year because that devotion wasn’t sustainable. Check in with yourself!
Now, the 20 Achievable New Year’s Resolutions for 2020
Okay, let’s see these concepts in action. We’ll take some common New Year’s Resolutions and break them down into smaller, more concrete examples that you can easily measure for achievement. These are just some ideas to get you started – change frequencies and activity
1. Eat Healthier
- Eat two vegetables per day and try one new vegetable every month
- Limit soda intake to one can per day
2. Exercise More
- Go to the gym on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays at 3:00 p.m.
- Follow this 30-day pushup challenge in January, and find a new challenge every month
3. Declutter My Home
- Deep clean a new section of your house each month, starting with the kitchen on January 1st
- Donate gently-worn items to a charity or secondhand store the weekend of February 10-12
4. Learn a New Language
- Journal 12 times, or once per month, in your target language
- Watch three children’s movies in your target language
5. Wake Up Earlier
- Put phone to bed at 9:00 p.m. every night
- Place a loud alarm across your room instead of next to the bed
6. Save Money
- Rent textbooks from Book Viking instead of the buying or renting from the university store
- Switch from name brand groceries to store brand ones
7. Take Care of My Skin
- Moisturize face every day, once in the morning and once at night
- Switch to a new, natural soap brand instead of commercial body washes
8. Learn to Cook
- Create a Pinterest recipe board and follow the directions for one new meal every week on Saturdays
- Watch a cooking documentary, like Salt Fat Acid Heat.
9. Spend Less Time on Social Media
- Delete social media apps you’re not interested in anymore
- Complete a one-week social media fast every six months, once in March and once in September
10. Find a New Hobby
- Read 12 books this year, one for each month
- Write in journal every Sunday night at 6:00 p.m.
11. Further My Career
- Follow these instructions to rewrite resume and LinkedIn for optimal wording
- Sign up for an online instruction website like Skillshare and complete one lesson every two weeks by Sunday night
12. Improve My Relationship
- Commit to a weekly date night every Friday at 7:00 p.m.
- Complete one act of service for your partner every day
13. Become More Eco-Friendly
- Purchase some easy starter plants, and research how to care for them
- Find out the best places to buy plants near Rexburg HERE
- Transition from using plastic grocery bags at the store to canvas bags
14. Give up a Bad Habit
- Start a bad habit jar and put $1 inside every time you catch yourself doing the activity you want to break
- Sort through your home and throw away the items that trigger this behavior (alcohol, cigarettes, junk food, etc)
15. Read More
- Create a Goodreads account and set a reading goal for the year
- Listen to audiobooks, like from Spotify or Audible, instead of music during your daily commute
16. Become More Confident
- Start a self-gratitude journal, and write two things you’re thankful for about yourself every evening
- Work through a list of practical activities to increase confidence
17. Volunteer More
- Volunteer at the Homestead Assisted Living through this link
- Transport food donations for the Idaho Food Bank through the Rexburg Family Crisis Center
18. Spend More Time with Family & Friends
- Call up a local family member and come up with a regular activity to do together – like Sunday dinners!
- If you and a friend have a similar goal, like going to the gym, complete it together – there’s even an app that keeps you both accountable!
19. Travel More
- Travel local and create a checklist, like the best waterfalls near Rexburg, to mark off as you visit them
- Explore four new places every semester, or approximately one per month
20. Practice Self-Care
- Meet with a local therapist regularly (you decide what counts as regular)
- Dedicate a specific night of the week to take special care of yourself with less homework, longer showers, meditation, extended hair and skin care, and an earlier bedtime.
Do You Feel Ready to Accomplish Your Goals?
Woo-hoo! We made it to the end! If you thought this article was helpful, be sure to share it with your friends and family on Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest so they can learn how to crush it at their 2020 resolutions!