Have you kept your New Year's resolutions? According to a survey conducted by Statistic Brain, there's a good chance you may have veered off the path. Of those who make New Year's resolutions, an abysmal 42% feel like they never succeed, and fail to meet their resolution each year. But that also means that 58% have the confidence and track record for success. What do these people do differently than the rest of us?
You may feel like if you have messed up already, then you definitely failed. But what does it mean to "fail" your New Year's resolution? Really, you have an entire year to reach it. As the Dalai Lama so wisely stated: "The only way to fail is to quit." Considering that it is only February, you've got most of your year left to get back on track. It's time to pull yourself up and do the actions necessary to make the changes you want to see in your life.
Learn to Love the Process
People say that one way to reach your goals is to make sure that they are reasonable in the first place. While there is much truth to this statement, I think most people get discouraged because their eyes are always on the finish line. Many people try to diet or exercise because they want to lose weight or bulk up. But why would you want to stick with it if it makes you miserable? Only by a divine act of God could some diet and exercise habits be sustained for the entire year. There may be a rough initiation period, but if you still absolutely hate what you are doing to reach your goal every day, you may be pushing yourself too hard. For example, if you are jogging, try run/walk intervals instead of running the whole time.
Don't Compare Yourself to Others
Always compare your success to your own efforts. Some people are naturally athletic. Some people have more time to pursue new interests. If you compare yourself to people who have different resources than you do, you're selling yourself short. As they say, "Comparison is the thief of joy." It is also the thief of perfectly doable New Year's resolutions.
Add More, Not Less
For dieting, instead of the deprivation mindset, think of enriching your diet. Instead of cutting your meals, eat more frequently, but less at one time. If your stomach is always full, you don't build a resentment towards your goals, and your body experiences less cravings for junk. Tracking your nutrients and ensuring that you get 100% daily values gives you more control over your eating habits, and it's healthier than simply cutting calories. Many nutrient tracking apps can be downloaded for free.
See Action Itself as Accomplishment
If you only consider your resolutions a success when you keep them until December, it will feel laborious and unrewarding. If you are planning to take up running, for example, consider the fact that you got up and got out as an accomplishment. You're always one step further ahead than the person who never moved in the first place.
Celebrate Your Victories Instead of Damning Your Failures
Say you're trying to save money to get yourself out of debt. You vowed to not spend money on eating out, but picked up some fast food on the way home this evening. Resist the urge to micro-focus and dwell on the one day you decided to go against your goals. It was one day out of an entire week of success. Focusing on failure is exhausting and it does you no favors.
Get Plenty of Sleep
We're a lot more emotional and cranky when we're tired. We tend to eat more quick-burn, fatty and sugary foods. We tend to spend more money to ease anxiety and mild depression. We definitely don't feel like getting out and exercising. Everyone is different, but most people need eight hours of sleep. It's commonly said that getting up early makes you more productive, but you won't be productive if you're tired.
Log Your Progress
Something about writing things down takes the self loathing and emotional volatility out of failing. Your progress is no longer a subjective representation of your character and worth. It's more like a stream of data that needs to be synthesized and manipulated. You tend to look at things more objectively when you write them down, and you are less susceptible to cheating because you know how far it can set you back. Cheating becomes part of the economy of goal-setting, and sometimes the feeling good just isn't worth the effort it will take to catch back up.
Make It a Social Affair
It's far easier to keep your goals if you have someone else to hold you accountable. In addition to being accountable, it can actually make the day-to-day more enjoyable as well. You can always get a walking or cooking buddy in person, but it's also a great idea to connect with people over social media. For example, Slow Runner's Club is a Facebook group that celebrates the activity of running and eliminates the stress of competition. This group of like-minded people keep each other motivated positively every day.
Focus on One Thing at a Time
Goal-setting and the potential drudgery of meeting your goals can become overwhelming if you try to do too many things at once. Be okay with being your less-than-ideal-self for the opportunity to be a little bit better than you were the day before. If you want a healthier lifestyle, you might pick up a sport or learn how to cook. But we only have so many hours in the day, and let's face it: you need your time to indulge in whatever it is that makes you happy. Don't overload yourself with so many new activities that you burn out.
So are you ready to get back on track? The best time to start any goal is now. You don't need to wait until the next year to try again. How are you going to stay on the right path to reach your goals?