Resolutions have become the New Year’s longest running joke. We make them, we break them, life goes on.
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But this year, as you gear up to create a new list of ways you can become a better you, try making a few changes that could actually improve the longevity of your resolutions. It’s great to set high standards for yourself, but if the bar is raised too high, the impulse to give up ensues.
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Give Yourself a Monthly Goal
Deadlines may be stressful at times, but often they are the only thing that ensures we complete a project or finish our work. But when it comes to New Year’s Resolutions, the deadline is so far away that we continually put our goals off until it’s December and we’ve completely run out of time or flat out forgotten about them in the first place. This year, instead of making a long list to complete by 2018, divvy your goals up into months. Assign one goal for January, a different one for February, a third for March, and so on.
For example, if one of your goals is to “Volunteer More,” write that into your May goals and sign yourself up. If you want to travel more, plan the dates even if it’s half a year in advance. Of course, some goals, like exercising or sticking to a healthy eating plan, are on-going. In these cases, start with a smaller step by saying, “I’ll go for a jog five times a week for the month of January.” Once you’ve successfully completed one month, carry that goal onto the next month in addition to Feburary’s pre-assigned goal. By the end of the year you’ll have completed twelve resolutions and may even have time for more.
Set Reasonable Expectations
There’s no harm in shooting for the stars, but when we set unreasonable expectations for ourselves we inevitably feel like failures when we don’t reach them. Consider this the Marathon Training tip: start small and gradually increase the load. This will prevent you from being overwhelmed in the beginning and ensure you reach your end goal.
For example, if you want to become a more avid reader, make your resolution, “Read one leisure book a month,” rather than “Read every book on Rory Gilmore’s reading list.” After a month or two of succeeding with this resolution, try adding a second book to your monthly goal. Overwhelming yourself with too high expectations usually ends in an incomplete resolution to be tacked onto the next New Year’s list.
Try Something New
We often get into a funk with resolutions as we year-after-year recycle the same goals that we failed at the year before. Spice up your yearly goals by trying new things. Whether one of your resolutions becomes, “Eat at the top 10 rated restaurants in Los Angeles,” or “Join Emma Watson’s book club,” you’ll be adding a fun new element into your life.
Schedule a 6 Months Evaluation
We usually start off the year pretty strong. We’ve committed to our new goals and we’re feeling happier and healthier… and then winter turns to spring and old habits sneak back into our lives. It’s okay to get a little off track. When life gets busy or stressful, it’s easy to slip into the comfortable way of life we’ve lived for so many years.
But this year, schedule a resolution evaluation in July to see what you’ve worked on and what needs improvement. If you slipped farther than you thought, you’ll still have half a year to kick those resolutions into gear. If you don’t quite trust yourself to make it to six months, schedule an eval every three months to hold yourself accountable throughout the year.
Re-brand Resolutions as a “Bucket List“
Can we all agree that bucket list sounds way more fun than resolutions? New Year’s Resolutions often feel like a chore because, to be fair, we often give ourselves goals that aren’t the most fun things in the world. But this year, consider your goals more like a bucket list of activities to complete before the year is over. It’ll make your goals way more inviting and can be a great way to incorporate your “try something new” tip into the year.
I don’t know about you, but I have quite a few things on my fun list that I constantly talk about and yet never do. These include everything from interesting exhibits at a nearby museum to long weekend road trips. Instead of doing the same ol’ thing this year, finally get to some of those activities you’ve been wanting to do for ages.
Plan Resolutions With Friends
Whoever said you had to do this alone?! It’s likely that at least a few of your resolutions overlap with your best friends’ so you may as well accomplish them together. If you and your gal pal want to exercise more, schedule running dates or take up the same kickboxing class. Whatever your joint resolutions might be, involve your friends so that you keep each other on task while having twice as much fun doing so.