Your New Years’ resolution: how to really keep it

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Don’t you want to be that enigmatic, refined, focused person who actually keeps their New Years’ resolution?

Every year, many millions of people make resolutions, and many millions of people don’t keep them.

For one simple reason: they don’t prepare for it.

Think about it. Going on a trip? You prepare by selecting and paying for flights, checking the expected weather, packing your bags, buying insurance, and reading up on local culture.

To achieve goals that you set for yourself, you have to prepare just like with anything else.

Whilst spontaneity is great and can make for a lot of fun, a New Years’ Resolution is generally a long term plan for a big change. No long term goals are achieved without at least a little planning.

I’ve come up with a few tips to help you get there this time around.


Realise that you don’t have to wait

This is probably the most important point. Get started on your goals before January 1. Start early, before the new year, and get a head start on everyone else. If you leave it until January 1 to begin, you’ll already be behind.

Depending on your goals, the planning stage might take a little while. Leaving planning until January means that it might be February before you get to start taking action.

Most people have given up on their resolutions by February. Don’t be one of those people.

If you get all your planning done before the new year, you have all of January’s motivation to actually get into the groove of a new habit without having to worry about when and how to do it – you just have to follow your plan. You only have to do something for 30 days to make it a habit, so if you can get through January you should be okay.

Say you plan to use reusable produce bags at the grocery shop instead of the little plastic ones they supply. You have to buy or make them before you can use them, so do that first. If you’re interested, I own these and love them.

Once you’ve got some, you’ll probably forget to take them to the shops with you, so get into the practice of remembering somehow. Set yourself a reminder, or keep them in your handbag. Soon enough it will become a habit!


Write it down and make a plan

You can’t just decide to do something that requires time and effort and think that it’s going to happen overnight.

Lose weight, get fit, pay off debt, change a habit. None of it can be done quickly. And if it can… why not do it now?

What to achieve?

To get real and finally achieve your goals, you need to first write down what exactly your New Years’ Resolution is.

Get clear about it. Have you ever been asked to do something, but the instructions were really unclear and you weren’t sure what to do or how to do it? Don’t do that to yourself when you have a choice.

Be specific about what you want to achieve. Not really sure what’s realistic for you? Look at what’s healthy or what other people have managed in the same time frame.

If you want to lose weight, be specific about how much. Want to start earning money from a side hustle? State a figure. If you want to be fit, list the things you want to be able to do.

For example, say you want to be able to do 100 push ups without a break, or you want to be able to beat your strongest friend in an arm wrestle, or you’d like to be able to run 5k without needing to go to hospital.



How to achieve it?

Once you’ve written this down, come up with a “how“.

You need actionable steps to get there. Saying that you want to lose 10 kilos by the end of the year is great, but if you don’t know how then you won’t get there.

I’m sure you know there are many different ways of achieving the one goal, and the same goal can mean different things to different people. Getting fit to one may mean being able to run a marathon. To someone else it might be being able to do 100 push ups.

You need to examine what your goal means to you in order to determine how to get there. Also consider what you like and what you’re good at.

For example, to get fit, you might want to run. Or you may hate running, but love to play squash. Or, neither of those appeal but you want to learn pole fitness.

Don’t try to achieve your resolutions via means that you hate – it’s already hard enough as it is. You’ll never get there, or if you do, life will suck. Do your best to make it as easy for yourself as possible.

You can write your goals and the steps or habits required, and track your habits, in a bullet journal. It’s a fun and creative way to keep your life in order. A standard organiser will work too, if creativity isn’t your thing.

My favourite organiser is the Filofax Malden A5 Organiser. It’s the perfect size and you can customise it how you like. I have dot grid pages to facilitate bullet journalling.


Don’t aim to achieve your life goals in one year

The thing to remember when setting a New Years’ Resolution is that you don’t have to strive to achieve all of your life goals in a single year.

Start with a reasonable goal for year one, get that right first, then continue with year two. Adjust year two to reflect what you learned about yourself in year one. You can always make the next year better than the last, but you have to start somewhere.

Say you want to be thirty kilos lighter. Just resolve to lose ten this year. Once you manage that, you’ll be so much more motivated to keep on the next year. Same goes for anything!

If you want to embrace a life of minimalism, start with something small. I’m guessing if you’re thinking about resolutions, Christmas isn’t far away. Why don’t you start by changing your wish list and gifting more meaningful gifts? If you’re not sure, I have a post on gift ideas of this nature.


Practice at it

Having your plan ready early means that you can start forming the habit early too.

The earlier you start, the more time you have to practice before the new year. If you can practice before January 1, you have time to make mistakes and make changes to your plan before it “matters”. You’re more likely to forgive yourself and go again if it isn’t the new year yet.

Practising now also means you’re less likely to mess up in the new year and it makes you better at forgiving yourself when you do.

I know from past experience that making a mistake can kill any and all motivation. If you feel like you’ve failed once you get into the new year, you will be less likely to get up and start at it again.

Develop a plan now and get practising before the new year.


Take advantage of big changes in life

Big changes can occur in your life at any point throughout the year. Often it isn’t right on the new year that things change in a big way for you, but you can use it to make your resolutions happen.

Take advantage of this. Psychologically, it’s easier to make big changes to your life and your habits when things are already changing.

Say you’re moving house. From day one, integrate the new habit you want. For example: you want to get fit in the new year. Go for a run first thing after waking up. Before you’ve unpacked, first morning in the new house, do it. And do it often. If you want to eat healthily, don’t allow junk food into the new house.

This can work for any sort of change, like a new job or a new partner. Or even after the passing of a loved one. You’ll be surprised at how easy it is to implement these big changes alongside other changes – just give it a try!


Find a buddy but don’t take their excuses

Finally, if you can, find yourself an accountability buddy.

It helps if this person wants to achieve the same thing as you, and challenges you, in a good way. You know, creates some friendly competition.

It’s best to steer away from people who often make excuses rather than push themselves. You’ll find yourself making excuses too, otherwise.

It can be so motivating to know that someone else is in it with you and going through the same thing. You can help each other through roadblocks and make it much further than either of you would alone.


So it’s time to get started! Sit down for five minutes now and draft out a plan for your New Years’ Resolution. The hardest part is beginning.

The best thing about this method is that you can start at any time! Even if you aren’t ready by January 1, you can use the whole next year planning and practising for January 1 NEXT year!

Use the comments section to tell me what your New Years’ Resolution is and how you plan to achieve it!

Image credit: Ian Schneider on Unsplash

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