Happy New Year’s life lovers! It’s now officially the end of the Holiday season and the beginning of our New Year’s Resolutions. Resolutions can be daunting though, so to kick off the New Year here are 10 ways to help you stay on track. Whether it’s weight loss, quitting smoking or just generally having a better year, these tips will help you maintain resolve and reach your goals. Before we get started, make sure your holiday decorations are away. Procrastination is habit we ALL need to quit before anything else.
1. Start Small
Regardless of what your resolution is the one thing that you have to keep in mind is that it’s a New YEAR’S Resolution. You have 365 days to reach your goal and just like we all did as babies, you need to take a few baby steps before you start running. Let’s say you want to lose 20 lbs. this year. A goal of 1 lb. per week would have you reaching your goal before summer. Naturally, 1 lb. doesn’t sound like a whole lot when you want to lose 50 lbs., but that is just a start. Lets say you add a pound to your weekly goal at the start of each month. That’s 4 lbs. in January, 8 lbs. in February, 12 lbs. in March, 16 lbs. in April and 20 lbs. in May for a total of 60 lbs. at the start of summer. Little victories lead the way to big triumphs. If you’re trying to quit smoking the same principle can apply there as well. You smoke two packs a day now, the first thing you’ll do is set a cap on how many cigarettes you go through in one smoke break and steadily subtract from that. If you go through four smokes each time you go to light up chop it down to three. An easy way to accomplish this is to have one empty pack on hand and transfer the three cigarettes from the main pack to your “cap” pack. You’ll have to stop yourself from asking other smokers for a pack, or tell your buddies to simply not let you bum a smoke from now on. Either way as you continue to impose higher limits on how much you smoke, you’ll begin to wean yourself off of your nicotine addiction. You can also do this in tandem with other smoking cessation aids like nicotine gum and patches.
2. Be Specific, Realistic and Reasonable
Now we talked about losing weight and quitting smoking, but what about the less tangible resolution goals? Wanting to be a better person, or be more outgoing are great resolutions too. The problem with those types of resolutions is that you can’t monitor progress in the same fashion because they’re too vague. “I’m going to get rich this year!” is an impress claim, but is also a doomed resolution. No one can go from cleaning cars to owning jets in just one year unless they win the lottery, gain an inheritance or rob a couple banks. That being said, the aspiration of such a resolution isn’t bad. My net worth last year was a little under $70,000 excluding some investments that are set to grow this year. My goal is to increase that number by at least $50,000 dollars. That’s quite a bit of money in and of itself but I’m not talking about having $50,000 in cash, I’m talking about having assets that equate to $50,000. Real estate investments, paper assets and various business partnerships can have me reach my goal by November and we’ll get more into how I plan to do so in the Financial Fitness section of Yagoli.com. Given the research I’ve done and the projections of some markets $50,000 is a reasonable figure to strive for.
Now if you have a resolution that is completely immaterial, the main thing to keep in mind is have a plan. Lets say you want to simply be a better person this year; first thing you need to do is define “better”. Nicer, friendlier, bolder, more assertive, less demanding…there are hundreds of characteristics that can be defined as better and only you can say which one’s will make you better. I can say that there is one constant with qualitative resolutions, watch the company you keep. If you hang around people that do nothing but give people attitude and make fun of others chance are you won’t be able to work on being nicer. However, volunteering and going to charity events will introduce you to people who will help you on your journey.
3. Exercise Your Will
Don’t forget that your brain is a muscle. That translates down to all of its functions as well, like: cognitive reasoning, critical thinking, problem solving and willpower. Just like any other muscle in your body, willpower can be improved through training and damaged by over exertion. Straining one’s willpower is one of the main killers of a person’s resolve, and is often the reason why we fail in achieving a major goal. Fortunately, exercising willpower can easily be tied into physical exercise. The two often go hand and hand as you strive to get fit, or shave some time off your run, your will is what gets you through that extra rep. That’s not to say that willpower can only be pumped up at the gym. Cutting back on impulse buys at the grocery store and cutting back on the sweets during your work breaks are good ways to train your will on a daily basis. This will also help with saving money and losing weight.
One thing to be weary of is the other side of that coin. Like with any muscle, your willpower has its limits and pushing past them too often can lead to injury. This injury comes in the form of a crash or binge that could destroy all your progress in record time. We’re only human and a slight indulgence here and there isn’t going do anywhere close to the amount of damage that a binge can do. Just like with your resolution, training your willpower is a marathon not a sprint.
4. One Bite At A Time
Like I said earlier, little victories lead the way to big triumphs. With any resolution, change should be expected at a steady pace. Think of it like juggling. No matter how coordinated you are you can’t start out with ten things at once and keep track of them while people keep adding things to your routine. For example, you want to start running marathons this spring, but you’ve never done long distance running. If you start out by trying to run a 10k tomorrow, you could potentially hurt yourself. This is especially true for sprinters. The stride you’re used to for a mile run isn’t necessarily going to work out for you when you increase the distance by over 5 miles. Set up goals for yourself and WRITE THEM DOWN. Keep yourself honest and stick to your progression before moving up to the next goal.
For those of you with multiple resolutions this is one rule you have to live by. Cutting back on sweets, learning a new language and making more money are all easy tasks to accomplish on their own. This isn’t so much the case when you’re trying to do three things that have nothing to do with each other. Focus on one task at a time to ensure that you continue making progress throughout the year. Please note that I didn’t say finish one at a time. It may be hard but balancing multiple resolutions can have great benefits on your physical and mental health when done right. You can study a new language one day, research ways to make money the next by setting up a schedule ahead of time that’s easy to remember and easy to adhere to.
5. Keep An Accomplishment Journal
Writing down your weekly goals is a major contributor to keeping your resolve. To go along with that, be sure to record your progress as well to help you keep a visual representation of all your hard work. This comes in handy for when you have a bad day and need some motivation. Your accomplishments can be quantitative or qualitative depending on your goal. Use the notepad on your phone or buy a pocket notebook from just about any store that sells stationary. This notebook will come into play for another reason that we’ll talk about in a bit.
6. Don’t Be Down
No one is perfect. No matter how hard I try, I’ve never managed to be 100% perfect in any of my pursuits. However, I have quite a list of accomplishments in my resume that I continue to add to all because of those three little words. If we were perfect, there’d be no reason for us to make New Year’s resolutions in the first place. We as a species have evolved through our failures just as much as we have through our successes. Fall with grace and then stand with the determination to not trip over the same hurdles as you continue forward. Take it slow and steady and above all else learn to forgive yourself if you make a mistake.
7. Have A Shoulder To Lean On
My resolution last New Year’s was to get my family out of the cramped apartment we were staying in. I reached my goal back in August and now I’m going to work on getting an even nicer place. During the 8 months it took for me to fix my credit, get finances in order and find the right house I had felt like quitting on more than one occasion. My fiancée, my father, my friend and family and even my co-workers all helped reignite my drive to see my resolution through. It’s not a failure to ask for help every once in a while and the people who care about you will help you reach your goals, even if all they can offer is a kind word or two. Don’t be scared or embarrassed to ask for advice and assistance when you need it most. If you’re trying to get in shape, see if your friends will come with you to work out. If you’re kicking a bad habit, use your friends to keep you on track. Also be sure to lend a hand with other their resolutions where you can. Helping others gives us a sense of pride and accomplishment that can help motivate us even further…
8. Give A Little Get A Lot
…Which creates a cycle of give and take that benefits everyone. I touched on this briefly during the 12 Posts of Christmas, giving is a great way to receive an extra boost. The feeling of proud satisfaction we get from generous gesture can be quite invigorating. I’m a frequent donor for the American Red Cross and every time I give blood I feel great for the rest of the day afterwards. Thinking back, the days that I went to a blood drive have always been some of my most productive and upbeat ones. Before you go volunteering your life away, however, let me remind you that charitable giving and generosity gives you a sense of pride only when the effort is sincere. Don’t go dumping your garage at the Goodwill center for the expectation of a return on investment.
9. Reward Your Milestones
Remember that accomplishment journal? With all this hard work you’re putting in, why don’t we use that journal to implement some incentives. Next to each goal in your journal I’d like you to write down a suitable reward to commemorate your milestone achievements. It could be a cheat day, a date night, a new game or movie, just about anything that would motivate you to reach your goal in a timely manner. Although I did say cheat day, you should still show some restraint to avoid temptation and a possible binge. Mix it up a little too. If you keep getting the same reward for your efforts, it subconsciously takes away the significance of the reward. Incentives and gamefication are psychological tactics that entice our competitive side and create an association with fun. In fact many employers have been applying these tactics for years to motivate workers and drive productivity. At the end of the day we all want to see our hard work recognized in one way or another even if it comes from ourselves.
10. Don’t Forget To Breathe
All work and no play, makes life dull. Having a solid resolution and strong determination are essential to reaching any goal, but so is being able to enjoy yourself in the process. If all you do day in and day out is work yourself to the bone trying to fulfill your resolution, you’re going to eventually reach your breaking point. Exercising uncompromising self-control at all hours of the day takes a serious toll on your willpower and all it takes is one temptation too many to cause a serious relapse. Take a break every now and then to help recharge your resolve. Keep your stress in check and make sure you are taking the time to enjoy your life while your changing it.
I wish you all the best of luck in keeping with your New Year’s resolution and hope you all find happiness and success this year. Do you have any tips to help people stick to there resolutions? Let us know in the comments and be sure to subscribe to Yagoli.com