Even though I know I don’t have to wait for the new year to start a new habit, new beginnings leave me wanting to feel like a new(er) version of myself and make resolutions to get there. But whatever resolutions I decide to make, I know that I’m going to do it out of self-love, not self-hate. For example, if your resolution is to work out more, do it because exercise helps you manage stress or because exercise makes your body feel good and your body deserves it, not because you want to change your body as it is or punish your body for the food you ate over the holidays. When you make resolutions rooted in fear or self-hate, you’re more likely to abandon the goal altogether by March (trust me). Because you deserve to feel accomplished, confident, and happier by 2023, here’s how to set resolutions you’ll actually keep.
1. Get clear on what you want and why
Stop and reflect on the last year and how you want to feel in the new year. What does that look like for you? Think about what it would look and feel like when you meet your resolution, and get specific (and I mean really specific). One of my resolutions is to hit the treadmill for at least 30 minutes whenever the day has me stressed because I feel less stressed when I am able to move. Maybe for you, it’s leaving for work 20 minutes early because you want to feel more relaxed and not rushing in the morning helps (or you feel your most productive when you have time to pick up an oat milk brown sugar shaken espresso from Starbucks). Tune out other expectations and visualize all the details around how you want to feel, and then set action goals around that feeling.
2. Make the resolution realistic and manageable
We often set resolutions that we think are manageable but are actually impossible, and it’s the unrealistic resolutions that’ll have you tripping. For starters, try not to make too many changes at once. I want you to dream big sis, but I also want you to understand the assignment. Break down larger goals into smaller ones to position yourself to celebrate and be motivated by small wins. If your resolution is to get a certification in your career field, break that resolution into tasks, like getting the study materials or registering for the exam, to figure out your targeted completion date. Proclaiming that you’ll study six hours every day when you can realistically only study two hours a day might leave you feeling discouraged or overwhelmed and eventually ghosting your resolution.
3. Plan ahead
Give your resolutions a fighting chance by setting yourself up for success. Try attaching your resolutions to any established habits you already have that you do regularly without thinking about it. If your resolution is to read eight books this year, and you’ve made more it manageable by breaking it down to read for at least 10 minutes everyday, make getting into bed your “trigger habit” to get cozy with a good book. Check if any of your resolutions pair well together. For example, your resolution to level up your skincare routine would go great with your bedtime reading resolution. Plan ahead by having your skincare items within reach and pick out a book ahead of time for your nightstand. The key is to find maintainable steps you can proactively take that support your resolution and work for you and your lifestyle.
4. Switch up your routine
One of my favorite quotes is “The definition of insanity is to do the same things and expect different results.” If your resolution is to change jobs, what do you intend to do differently this year to get to that resolution? More specifically, what habits do you have now that are holding you back from that resolution? Maybe you tend to lose two to three hours each night watching TV or scrolling on social media that could be spent fluffing up your resume or making connections on LinkedIn. Reassess your current routines and how you’re spending your time to block out time that would be better used to learn a professional skill, check job listings, or network with professionals in your industry. What we water grows, so realistically update your routine to reflect your new priorities.
5. Schedule checkpoints
Stay on track throughout the year by scheduling checkpoints. Depending on the length of your resolution, these dates can be weekly, monthly, or quarterly. Because you’ve thought about what it looks and feels like to meet your resolution, you’ll have the metrics needed to be able to tell how it’s going. For example, if your resolution is to save $5,000 for a vacation at the end of 2022, try checking your progress monthly. Have you been depositing $417 each month into your savings? Do you need to make any changes to your budget to help you stay on track? The pre-scheduled checkpoints give you a chance to reward yourself if you’ve met your smaller goals or adjust as necessary if you’ve been struggling. Having a schedule in place will increase the likelihood that you’ll hit your resolution by Dec. 31.
6. Get an accountability buddy
I love checking in with my sister on the progress we’re both making with our goals. We encourage each other to stay focused on the big picture. Even though our resolutions aren’t exactly the same, our check-ins with each other are reminders not only to keep going but also that we’re not alone in successes or challenges. Your accountability buddy can also be someone in your virtual Weight Watchers group or book club. Having someone to bounce ideas off of, vent to, or be encouraged by makes a huge difference. It’s not about someone holding you accountable because you don’t have the ability to hold yourself accountable (hint: you should enjoy and feel motivated by your goals so much that it’s not hard to hold yourself accountable). Instead, having a “buddy” is about built-in support (it takes a village to reach a resolution!).
7. Stay inspired
In order to stay motivated to reach your resolution, immerse yourself in foods, activities, content, and music that inspire you. If you’ve decided to learn French this year, make a French cuisine dinner with your friends to eat while you watch a French film and see how many words you were able to recognize. If your resolution is to run a marathon in the fall, listen to training techniques via YouTube or listen to podcasts with trainers and marathon winners that will keep you inspired and excited. There’s so much content out there to motivate you as you go after your resolution, so immerse yourself in whatever way will keep you inspired.
8. Remember your “why”
Whenever I get distracted from my resolutions, I go back to why I started in the first place and remember that initial intention and how I want to feel. When you’re clear on what you want and why you want it, it’s easier to stay focused—especially when your “why” is rooted in something that matters to you like confidence, happiness, or a longer life. The pride that you feel from learning how to create a healthy and nutritious dish that gives you energy without sacrificing flavor or the idea of spending a longer life with the people you love will motivate you more than the desire to have a six-pack ever could.
9. Be kind to yourself
Show yourself compassion if (and when) you fall short of your expectations. Talk to yourself as you would a friend (and we both know that friends don’t let friends trash talk themselves!). Journal or document your progress and also how you’ve been feeling while taking steps toward your resolution. Making progress toward your resolution is more important than being “perfect” or hitting your exact goals because you’re still getting closer to how you want to feel and the intention that matters to you. If you put yourself down or feel bad for not hitting certain expectations, your chances of ghosting said resolution will go up, so be kind to yourself, talk to yourself like you would a friend, and know that sometimes, resolutions are meant to be a starting point to become our best selves, not a final destination.
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