By Jack Hornsby
We all have experienced how hard it is to stick to a resolution, I know I've failed within the first week of trying to stick to mine. I get lazy and let it fall by the wayside and if you’re like me then you’re in the right place! I’m going to give you a bunch of tips and tricks that have worked for me in the past, and what I’ll be doing this year to help me keep myself on track!
Start with a routine
A routine is pretty simple. It’s just something you do that becomes second nature. A great example that applies to myself, and many others, is having a cup of coffee when you wake up in the morning. That’s just how my mornings always start. Another routine that applies to me is getting up super early every Saturday to watch Soccer. When I first started getting up early on the weekend, it kinda sucked. but after 8 years of doing it, I just have a 6 AM weekly alarm for Saturdays, and that’s how I start my week ends without even really thinking about it. Routines help build habits, and that’s exactly what resolutions are all about - making changes to your habits.
Why is getting into a routine important?
Routines make it easier for us to do something and make sure it isn’t left behind. With a new year's resolution for 2021 it’s something new you have to integrate into your life. So saying you want to work out once a week is something that plainly isn’t specific enough. Maybe you do it a couple times at different days, but if you specifically define Sunday from 5 to 6 PM and do that every week you will have a much harder time skipping it when you know that time is blocked out for your new routine. After a couple weeks of doing whatever it is you’re trying to do it will become second nature, and Sunday will just become workout day(or whatever it is for you).
While it can be hard to get into routines, and studies show that it will take a couple weeks to really make it into something second nature, it is something you just have to keep trying at. While on the subject of studies, studies show that getting into a routine is much more effective when you mould the routine itself around your own schedule or habits. Cutting things out of your life is much harder to do than just adding something new in. Maybe after work on Tuesday you don’t really have anything that you do with your free time. That would be a perfect day to start to fit in your new routine!
Why haven’t your routines worked in the past?
Before we even get started on any of the big stuff let’s have to look at the roadblocks we sometimes face when getting into a routine. Personally, I get super lazy and never really give myself a chance at getting into any sort of routine. Starting in the first week, I’ll be really good about following through and holding myself accountable to whatever it is I have chosen for my resolution. Sometimes I'll even be really good about sticking to my new year's resolution through the second and third week , but around 3 weeks in, I’ll start making excuses about why I don’t have the time to do it this week, or how I'm too tired and need to take a nap.
Figuring out your own roadblocks is different for every person. So you really just have to look at yourself and figure out what might and what might not work. Let’s look at an example of a roadblock that I’ve faced and break it down! When I’ve made resolutions that end up requiring more effort than I thought I’d need, I’d just tell myself “I’m too lazy to do this”. Making excuses for yourself is easy and harmful - especially when you stop seeing them as excuses and really start believing them! A good way to counter excuses is to take steps toward accountability and reward yourself when you do achieve your goals. Take some time to think about why your plans haven't worked in the past and write down everything that got in the way of sticking to your resolution. This will help you plan better and counter things that might get in your way of sticking to your 2021 new years resolution!
Give yourself realistic goals
Having measurable goals is one of the first and foremost obstacles you need to figure out when making a plan for your resolution. Start small, but make sure you’re specific with the goal! A good example of this from my own new year’s resolution for 2021is that I decided that I want to work out twice a week. I’m going to do this by working out on Sunday and Wednesday evenings at 5:00 pm. By giving myself specific days and times, i’ve already built it into my schedule and can’t make excuses for not having time.
Giving myself very specific goals works wonders for me, because it’s so much harder for me to skip it. As I said earlier I can get really lazy, and I’m very experienced at making excuses about why I can’t do something that day, or that I will do it tomorrow (spoiler alert: I most certainly will not do it tomorrow). Non-specific goals are not effective for me because I'm someone who needs structure. If my goal was to just work out 2 times a week, I would get my workout in for the first day, but by the time the end of the week came around and I wouldn’t have budgeted enough time for my workout. I’d have sacrificed my workout for whatever else that needed to get done, or maybe even just taken a nap and completely blown off my work out.
How do you stick to your goals?
Once you've outlined your goals, you need to find a way to stick to them. There are a lot of other ways to help you stick to your goals. For me, I NEED to make my goals as tangible as possible. Making these goals feel more real and attainable helps keep me motivated along the way. A couple ways that are found to be universally helpful for sticking to goals are visualizing your goals and writing them down somewhere.
Take a couple minutes out of every day, week, or month to visualize what your goal will look like when it has come to fruition. Seeing where you will be at the end of your journey really helps you stick with it! For my 2021 new year's resolution, I have been taking a couple minutes every day and visualizing where I want to be in a year. The more you repeat or visualize something, the more real that goal will end up feeling. This is a fool-proof way to motivate and push yourself to meet your goals for your 2021 New Year’s resolution!
Finally, writing your goals down is great because it gives you something physical to look at. You should be as specific as possible when writing down all these goals. I usually prefer the list format as it’s quick to go through and easy to read. Start with your overarching new Years resolution, and then break them down to smaller goals for your list Once you’ve reached the smaller goals, go ahead to cross them off! It’s always such a satisfying feeling to cross something off when you’ve achieved it!
Track your progress
When starting something new and beneficial for myself I LOVE tracking how I'm doing. I’m a very competitive person. I want to outdo whatever I did last week. The best way to do this is by tracking my progress! For your new year's resolution 2021 tracking how you’re doing can either be a fun little pat on the back for yourself, or it can be extra motivation if you regress. Every person gets motivated differently, what works for me is negative reinforcement. What i mean by that is i need something or someone to tell me what i’m doing wrong.
How can you track your progress?
Well, there are a lot of ways you can track your progress, so you need to find something that works for you, but i’ll leave a couple suggestions. As i mentioned earlier, writing things down and crossing them off is a very satisfying way of keeping track of past, present, and future goals. My personal favorite way of tracking my own progress is keeping a calendar specifically for whatever i’m working on. That way I can look at it and see exactly where I'm at, where I'm going to be, and what the journey getting there will look like. Just having some form of tangible tracker for me is something that I have found to work the best and is something I would recommend to anyone.If you have another way you know will work for yourself then go for it! This might mean having a friend or family member help hold you accountable, having weekly check-ins with yourself, or putting up sticky notes around your home with inspirational words. Whatever it is, be sure there is a way to track your goals and progress!
Accountability is an absolute must for any goal you set for yourself, and there’s a couple good ways to stay accountable. One way that I keep myself accountable is to try and bring a friend on board for a project or resolution. If you have someone else pushing you to reach your goals and vice versa it’s so much harder to give up on something. Plus having a friend most likely pushes you beyond how far you might push yourself- you have a whole other person to compete with! On top of that, if i start feeling lazy, or skip days, having someone to give me a kick in the butt to keep going can really help me stay on track. Now, it’s not always possible to have someone else there to push you to meet your goals (especially this year), but another good way to keep oneself accountable is with a rewards system, which we’ll get into in the next section!
This is the best part of any journey! While reaching the benchmarks and goals of your resolution are a reward in and of themselves, giving yourself tangible things to work towards throughout your journey is a great way to incentivize yourself to keep at it! I know for myself having that extra little thing, like ordering in from my favorite restaurant and having a cheat day, is a great way for me to push myself to meet or exceed a goal. It shows that you earned what you got!
That personal example aside, you can really use anything as a reward for yourself to achieve your goals. Maybe you’ve been eyeing a new nick nack, or mulling over a big purchase for yourself. Figure out what goals you want yourself to reach in order to earn those things for yourself and decide what they would be proportional to. Then receiving them will feel so much more sweet and special because you earned them! Any little treat that you can give yourself as a reward for sticking to it helps and adds even more incentive for you to stick to that new routine!
Make it enjoyable!
A lot of resolutions people are going to have for new years 2021 are going to be more health or wellness focused. Even if you don’t enjoy eating healthy, going to the gym, or whatever it may be, finding a fun way to integrate this new routine into your life is a great way to stick with it and achieve your goals. I personally chose a new year's resolution for 2021 that will be fun for me to do, but if you’re doing something you’re not too excited about, it’s definitely worth the time to figure out how to make it fun.
There’s so many interesting ways to make something fun! If you’re eating healthy, spend that extra time and figure out healthy recipes that will be fun for you to make and eat! If you chose working out as your resolution, find workouts that you enjoy doing. This part may even be the hardest portion of making a routine, but I would highly recommend that you give this portion of starting a new routine the most thought. Finding a way to gain personal enjoyment out of your 2021 new years resolution is going to be far and wide the best way to ensure that you stick to it for the whole of the 2021 calendar year.
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