(And avoid last year’s mistakes)
It’s Early February, which means dedication to New Year’s resolutions is being sorely tested. We often talk about these commitments as if they’re a lost cause, but there’s more hope than you’d think: In a recent study, roughly 40 percent of those who made resolutions were still on track 6 months into the New Year.
Here are a few ways you can keep yourself going when the initial enthusiasm fades.
1. Be specific about what you want to achieve
The first step in keeping a resolution that lasts is being specific about what you want to do. What will you do each day to bring you closer to your goal? Are there simple milestones you can reach on a daily basis? Who will you include in your effort: you and your kids, you and your spouse, or just yourself? What are you trying to accomplish, what locations are involved (where), when are you starting, ending, and other times that are important. Know why you are doing setting this goal. Is it to improve your health, finances, or relationships? How specifically will you reach your goal?
2. Break your goals up into quantifiable milestones
This step can be difficult, as some goals are hard to quantify: how do you mark progress when you’re trying to improve a relationship, be friendlier, or any other subjective goal? In the case of improving a relationship with a child, set criteria that you think may help, such as knowing the names of your children’s friends, or spending at 30 minutes a day one on one with each child. Being able to measure your efforts will help, but ultimately you’ll be the judge of your success.
Things like weight loss and financial responsibility are much easier to break down into numerical milestones, but it’s no good if you don’t keep track; so use a solid weight tracking tool or accounting and finance software to help you track your progress toward those goals. And when you’ve identified milestones, don’t forget to reward yourself for them!
3. Keep your thinking realistic
Be intellectually honest with yourself about how realistic your goals may be. If part of your desire to become healthier this year is weight loss, you can determine what an appropriate weight for your body type is, and then create a realistic schedule to reach that goal. It may take much longer than this year, but that’s okay; fitness should become a permanent part of your life anyway.
Realistic thinking also requires thinking about your family, friends, and coworkers—if your goal requires the involvement of other people, be sure they’re on board before you set your heart on it.
4. Fit the goal into your real life
Your resolutions will fail the moment they cease to be relevant to your daily life. If your efforts aren’t focused on a clear goal, they’ll become busy work, you’ll lose motivation, and there will be no obvious reason to continue. This often happens with unused gym equipment, and stagnant savings accounts. Be careful not to spend too much time “preparing” to fulfill your goals—make sure all your effort directly contributes to the prize you’re after.
5. Stick to your deadlines
The last element stresses the need that goals need to be grounded in a time-frame. First you need to determine when you are starting, for most that will be immediately, for some goals they might not be able to be implemented for a few days or weeks. Once you do start, what will you do now, tomorrow, within the week, month, or 6 months? Create time markers on a calendar that you can share with everyone involved throughout the year that will help you measure your efforts towards your resolution.
[About the author: Aimee Watts is a staff writer for Mobile Moo. She has spent ten years telecommuting full-time, and loves spreading tips and advice for fellow work-at-home parents. She loves gadgets, new ideas, and skiing with her two favorite people: her husband and teenage son. They live in Evergreen, Colorado. Image: Nanagyei]