If you are looking to investing in yourself, the New Year’s season is the best time to start. This is because the New Year’s holiday symbolizes a new beginning where everyone is given a chance to forget all the wrongs they did and start anew. Unfortunately, studies have shown that only about 12% of all New Year’s resolution participants achieve their goal (source). Hopefully we can crank that number up this year with some of these New Year’s resolution tips that worked for me in the past.
1. Find one resolution that you truly desire
A lot of people fail to meet their New Year’s resolution simply because they have too many resolutions that they do not really care about. People say that if there’s a will, there is a way, but that will is a limited resource. Having to focus mental energy into 5 different things is a lot harder than to focus on 1 task. My one resolution tends to relate to improving my health. Since it is the thing I value most, I can always find great reasons why I would want to work towards it.
2. Make many small, measurable, and time bounded goals instead of one huge generic goal
In the past, I’ve set long generic goals only to forget about it and feel disappointed in myself when I remembered it a year later. I found that setting small, measurable, and time bounded goals work much better for me. Try breaking up your huge New Year’s resolution into weekly chucks of things you have to do to achieve that goal. Trust me, spending the effort to do this will keep you on your resolution longer and help you feel better about yourself every week.
3. Share your goals with friends/family or to the public
If you keep your New Years resolution to yourself, you are giving yourself room to fail. I say this because the only person holding yourself accountable for your actions is you. As humans, we forget even simple things (“Dude! Where’s my car?”), so it’s quite hard to always keep your goals in mind all the time. You will need other people to help hold you accountable and help be your support group. Be brave and let your friends and family (or even the public) know that you’ve committed to your goal.
4. Get in the right mindset everyday
Write down what your goal is on a piece of paper and write down why you want to achieve that goal. Keep this piece of paper handy next to your bed. Read this piece of paper to yourself everyday as soon as you wake up. As a bonus tip, make 3-4 more of these papers with different reasons on why you want to achieve your goal and read a random one each morning.
5. Start slow and ease into things
Ever noticed the first week of the gym right after New Year’s holiday? There are tons of people there. As more weeks roll by, the gym starts to empty out. Why is that? I seriously think people push themselves too hard too early. You can’t expect to go from being a full-time couch potato to exercising 7 days a week and stick to it without having a drill sergeant yelling at you at all times.
When I lost my first 45 pounds, I started by making small changes to my diet and then gradually eased my body into jogging. If I were to fix my diet and start jogging all at once, my body would have crashed. My ankles wouldn’t have been able to handle the weight and I wouldn’t have enough energy to exercise without inducing stress (stress hormones store fats). Remember that slow and steady wins the race.
6. Plan and log your progress
Make a daily plan of attack that answers, “What are you going to do each day so you can get closer to your goal?” Itemize your actions in a to-do style list on a piece of paper and give yourself a star once you’ve completed them. Here’s an example to-do list:
- Sleep 8 hours ______
- Drink 8 glasses of water ______
- Eat healthy breakfast ______
- Eat healthy mid morning snack ______
- Eat healthy lunch ______
- Eat healthy afternoon stack ______
- Eat healthy dinner ______
- Exercise 30 minutes ______
7. Regularly check your progress and celebrate every small goal you attain
Find a way to measure your progress and decide on how often you want to check in on your progress. For fitness, I like to check-in on how I’m doing every week. So every week, I step on the scale and then use fat calipers to measure my body fat percentage. I also like to have my girlfriend take a picture of myself every month.
If you’ve been sticking to your resolution, you will definitely have made positive impact towards your goal. Every time you check in is a great time to stop, reflect, and congratulate yourself. Spread the good news with your support group (see #3). Keeping the air positive will help you continue on your resolution.
8. Recognize that there will be set backs
Don’t ask yourself for perfection. There are times when life gets in the way of your resolve and throws you off your course. This is when most people get disappointed with themselves and then start building negative energy. When this happens, realize that it is not your fault, brush off the incident, and continue keeping your New Year’s resolution like nothing happened.
If you don’t achieve your goal, don’t beat yourself over it!
Last year my personal resolution was to get from 21% body fat to 16% body fat by August. Honestly, I didn’t make it into the 12 percentile last year, but I kept my resolution going strong for all 8 months long! I still wouldn’t say that I fully failed since I did lose 3% body fat in the process. I’m still healthier than I was at the beginning of year, and I’ve learned a lot about myself in the process. With that knowledge, I will be able to do even better with my next year’s resolution.