There’s something about the new year that gives us energy and enthusiasm as we think about the changes we want to make in our lives, but it seems that every year, that energy and enthusiasm fades within just a few weeks. How many of your New Year’s resolutions are you still keeping now that we’re nearing the halfway point of the year? If you’re like the rest of us, the answer is “not very many.” That doesn’t mean it’s too late to start over, however. Whether you have fitness goals, financial goals, or want to free yourself from a bad habit, here are some tips for renewing your New Year’s resolutions months into the new year.
Assess why you didn’t keep your resolution in the first place. There are a variety of reasons that a New Year’s resolution can fail. Assessing your failed resolutions can be easier when you consider what makes for a successful resolution. The most successful resolutions are SMART—Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound. When reflecting on the resolutions that you made, ask yourself: Was the resolution specific enough that it was more than a mere wish? Was it measurable, with concrete criteria for measuring your progress? Was it achievable, in that it outlined specific steps that fell under your abilities? Was it relevant, in that it would be worthwhile and beneficial to you? And was it time-bound, with a target date that would establish a sense of urgency? Hold up your past resolutions to these questions and see how your resolutions measure up.
Update your resolution accordingly. Now that you’ve assessed how your resolutions measure up to these questions, determine how you can update your resolutions to set yourself up for success. If you made a resolution to lose weight, for example, maybe you could make it more specific, measurable, and time-bound by saying, “I want to lose 15 pounds in six months by going to the gym three times a week.” Or if you made a resolution to read more, you could instead make it a goal to read one book for pleasure each month. Another update you could make to your resolution: share it with someone else who can hold you accountable. Keeping your goals to yourself is another way to set yourself up for failure.
Celebrate the small successes. It’s also important to celebrate the small successes you encounter as you work away at your resolution, so make it a point to do so as you progress. Just be sure that you celebrate in a way that coincides with your goals. If you had a goal to lose weight and become more fit, for example, don’t celebrate be rewarding yourself with an indulgent treat. Or if you had a goal to trim your expenses by $200 each month, don’t splurge on a major expense to celebrate. This is another reason as to why it’s so important to share your goals with others—you’ll have someone to share and celebrate your successes with.
Don’t think of it as a New Year’s resolution. New Year’s resolutions are infamous for failing, and characterizing your goals now as “renewed New Year’s resolutions” really just serves as a reminder that you didn’t quite meet your tackle your goals the first time. So maybe it’s better not to characterize your goals as New Year’s resolutions at all. Instead, think of your goal as a commitment to a lifestyle change, and don’t depend on a time of the year to fuel your enthusiasm. There isn’t anything inherently different about early January that should affect your ability to meet your goals, anyhow. (In fact, you might find it easier to tackle your goals as you draw from the optimism that so often comes with more sunshine and warmer weather at this time of the year.) Decide that you will make goals and plan on accomplishing them no matter the time of the year, and remind yourself that the sooner you get started on your goals, the sooner you can enjoy seeing successes with your goals.
Let go of the past. One major key to making any change in your life is to recognize that past habits and lifestyle choices don’t have to define you. This article puts it well when it says this: “While who you are today is a reflection of who you are yesterday, it doesn’t determine who you will be tomorrow.” So, remind yourself that whatever your past, your future is a clean slate.
By: Maurine Anderson