The date is January 17, and statistically most people have already given up on their New Year’s resolutions. In fact, research suggests that January 12 is the date in which most people have given up their resolutions. This date is nicknamed “Quitters day” and conveniently happens just in time to order Girl scout cookies for most parts of the United States.
Whether you’ve stuck to your goals or you threw in the towel on January 2, this list is for anyone who wants to focus on keeping long term goals or wants to give their resolutions another try. After all, any day of the year is a good day to make changes and pursue goals.
According to this article from Forbes.com,Three Surefire Ways To Succeed With Your New Year’s Resolutions, there are three surefire ways to succeed with your resolutions.
- Be specific about your goals. The Forbes article uses “Getting more organized” as an example for an ambiguous goal. According to the article, you should define what this means to you. Does it mean fewer piles around the home or office? Does it mean not having a clutter catching area? Perhaps “organized” means having laundry put away or only having toys that your children play with. Whatever your goal means to you, define it. Knowing what your exact goal is will make accomplishing it much easier.
- Make your goals more doable. The Forbes article suggests that many people make their goals “overly ambitious.” While it is always great to dream big, breaking those dreams down to smaller goals you can actually accomplish can help a person reap the sweet feeling of success much easier. Say you’d like to lose 80 lbs, perhaps set a smaller goal to let you know you’re making progress. 80 lbs feels daunting, 10 lbs seems doable with small changes. Once you hit your first goal, you can always set another and another until you reach the bigger one.
- Create a strategy to reach your goal. The Forbes article suggests that many people lack a direction to take when they set their goal. You want to eat healthier but you really didn’t think about “how” you were going to do that. Just like finding an address on a GPS and following the steps, resolutions and goals need a strategy in order to reach your destination. How do you plan to start eating healthy? Will you change one meal a day? Will you cut out soda or sugar? Will you limit carbohydrates or just add a green vegetable with every meal? Consider how you define success in this process. What do you consider progress? Even if you’re not a ‘list maker’ and your outline is rough and vague, it is still a map to your dreams. Consider it as such.
- Set doable deadlines. According to this article in the NY times and this article on Entrepreneur.com, successful individuals set a date to achieve certain parts of their goal. Be sure it is a realistic time frame. “I’d like to have lost 10 lbs by February 14,” or “I’d like to be practicing Italian for five minutes a day every day for two weeks.” Remember that strategy listed above? Give yourself a timeline for those. Having deadlines can keep you on track for your bigger goals.
- Declare your goal publicly and have a support system in place to hold you accountable. Even if it’s your mom checking to make sure you walked scruffy this morning to get your exercise or it’s your best friend making sure you haven’t had a cigarette since the last time you said you did. Having someone you’re checking in with increases your chances of success. It’s easy to let yourself down. It’s much more difficult to let down someone you care about.
- Celebrate small victories. It’s okay to brag about the 10 lbs you just lost, even if it took you three months longer than you had hoped. It may not sound like a lot compared to the 40 lbs more you need to lose, but losing any weight is hard. Especially if you worked hard to earn that small goal. Focus on the behavior changes that are getting you closer to your goal. Maybe you organized your pantry. Maybe you cleaned one room of your house a day. Whatever your small victory is, celebrate it!
- Get back up after you fail. Oh no! Your birthday came up and your “low carb diet” went out the window. You got sick one week and didn’t jog. You let the laundry pile up. You stopped being “the nicer person” you were working hard to be. You were late to work after a long streak of early days, or you went a whole week without reading when you set a goal of six books a year! Guess what? You’re human. It happens. Just as we were children, we all fall down, scrape our knee, we might despair for a moment but we get back up and start playing again. So brush off the failure. Acknowledge that it happened and start over. Chances are, if you’ve come so far along with your goals already, bouncing back will be easier than you expected.
So pick up the pieces and start again. You may have failed in the past but that doesn’t mean you should give up. Just because the New Year has come and gone doesn’t mean you shouldn’t keep trying. Every day is a great day to focus on becoming a better version of yourself.