We made it! 2020 is here! We've survived another trip around the sun and made it to the year of 2020. One of the oldest standing traditions when the new year arrives is to create a New Year's Resolution. It is a time to reflect on how the past year went and how we want the new one to precede. We make a list, whittle it down to the ones we truly want, and then start the year off with a bang. But then, the inevitable happens. One month in and no longer do we rise with the sun to get in a morning workout. Our fridges are once more stocked with delicious pints of ice cream. And all our dreams have fizzled to not. But, what if we could change this? How can we make our New Year Resolutions turn from fanciful dreams to beautiful reality?
The first step of making sure that your new year's habits will stick is to set realistic expectations. An old adage says that our eyes grow bigger than our stomachs (and during the holidays, this tends to happen a lot!). The same is true with many people's resolutions. We set the bar too high and then are surprised when we cannot reach the goal. It is easier, and more attainable to set smaller, more manageable goals that will lead us to hitting our ultimate one. For example, many people set a goal of working out and/or going to the gym every day. We sign up for the gym membership, and, for the first week, many times we do show up every day. However, our bodies are not used to working out so much and, let's be honest, life gets in the way. Pretty soon, we're looking at the other side of March and haven't seen the inside of the gym since January 7th. A better idea would be to set smaller goals. Try going to the gym once a week. After a month, bump that up to two times a week. Before you know it, December will arrive and the habit of daily gym routines will be a thing of the past. By setting up the smaller steps ahead of time, it makes it easier on yourself to accomplish the overall resolution.
The second step to making the new you become a reality is to set a clear time frame. The old myth is that it takes 21 days to create a new habit; however, research has shown that it takes on average 66 days in order to make a habit. When creating your New Year's Resolutions, make sure to account for how long it will take. Many people become disheartened that their new “habit” feels like work, because it has not become a habit yet. Make sure to keep track of your progress as you work on your resolution and build in rewards when you accomplish them.
The third step in making a new resolution is to plan for failure. The truth of the matter is, that creating a new habit is hard! Some days will be easy and the motivation will help you wake up feeling like you can conquer the world. Other days, it will be a true slog. On those days when things do not go your way and you do not accomplish your goal, don't give up! Dust yourself off and vow to do better the following day. Try and identify what impeded your progress and take steps to overcome them tomorrow. Missing one day does not mean that the goal cannot be done. Failure only comes from the decision to stop trying.
As another decade comes to a close, make sure to reflect back on both successes and failures throughout the year. Aim to repeat the successes and overcome the mistakes of the past. Be realistic, set a time frame, and plan for the bumps in the road and the New Year will end with a brand New You!