5 Simple Tricks to Stick to your New Year's Resolutions

How are your New Year's resolutions coming along?  In these first weeks of January, many of us will be fixating on losing weight, sorting out our finances, saving money, improving our career or changing jobs, getting fitter and healthier, and sorting out our relationships.  But by Easter the majority will have abandoned their resolutions and achieved very little of their initial fervour.  Just how can you stick to your New Year's Resolutions?

1. Define Your Motivation

With everything in life our motivation is either intrinsic, coming from inside ourselves, or extrinsic, from something outside yourself.  For each of your New Year's resolutions work out what your motivation is.   Then all you have to do is create circumstances that make you more excited to accomplish your goals.

Intrinsic: The motivation comes from inside.  You feel better after eating healthily, going to the gym or going for a run, so you want to do it more.

Extrinsic: You are pushed forward by actions outside your personal scope.  You prefer working out with friends, and work harder when there is a reward system in place, even one of your own creation.

2. Break Your Goals Down

Setting your goal is easy, but to get there you need to define the steps you take to reach that goal.  If you want to stick to your resolutions, it’s wise to break each step down into smaller goals, to make them more manageable.

Write down your baby steps, note them in your daily and weekly tasks, and add them to your planner.  Each time you achieve another step, reward yourself and feel proud of what you've accomplished.  Positive reinforcement is crucial to help guide you as you push towards your goal.

One way to do this is to make sure your actions are SMART:

• Specific: Having a specific end result.  Not just 'lose weight' but 'lose 2 stone'.

• Measurable:  How will you know when you have achieved your goal?  How will you measure each step towards it?  Evaluating your progress will give your motivation a boost.

• Achievable: Be realistic.  Set goals that are challenging, but achievable.  You can set daily goals as a building block to bigger goals.

• Relevant: How will it impact your life?  Why is your goal important to you personally?

• Time-bound: Goals need to have a defined end date.  Set a date to accomplish your goal, and each of the steps towards it.

3. Be Honest with Yourself

The more realistic your resolutions, the more likely you’ll see them through.  If your goal for the New Year is to exercise more, then start small.  Instead of planning a 5-day workout week, go for 20 minutes a day, then increase the time and the challenge gradually.

As you begin to see how much you can achieve, you will feel motivated to do more.  Don't fall into the trap of believing your actions have to be all or nothing.  Doing something, anything, towards your goal is better than nothing at all.

4. Stay on Track

Set smaller goals if you are struggling, and keep track of every productive action you accomplish.  Focus on one step, and one goal, at a time.  Anticipate obstacles and plan for what you will do when you hit them.

You won't always feel inspired, motivated or committed, so be smart and be prepared for those difficult days or weeks.  Plan to overcome any obstacle that threatens to come between you and your goal.

For example, if you get bored when you exercise, choose upbeat workout music that will get you moving.  Or you can work out at home, as you catch up on your favorite TV shows.

If your motivation method is extrinsic, plan trips to the gym with a friend.  The idea is to nip negativity in the bud before it becomes stronger than your willpower.

5. Be Accountable

Accountability means you’re taking responsibility for the choices you’re making.  This may seem easy to do at work when you have a deadline and a boss reinforcing it.  It may not seem as easy when you’re at home alone, can't be bothered to cook a healthy meal, and want to order take-out instead.

To combat this, you can enlist the help of a friend or join a support group where you know that you will get help when your willpower wanes. Making a commitment to someone, even if it’s as simple as posting a photo of your dinner on social media each night.

For those who are intrinsically motivated, hang a calendar on your wall with progress notes so you can keep tabs on how far you've gone and what still lies ahead.

Keeping your New Year’s resolution can seem scary at first.  However, with these 5 steps, you can do anything you put your mind to.  Moreover, once you accomplish your first resolution, you’ll find that it’s not only beneficial, it’s fun as well!

Related post:

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Boost Your Energy in 9 Easy Steps
How to Have a Good Night's Sleep Every Night

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