How To Make Smart New Year’s Resolutions

“Why am I seeing this blog now TJ? Why wait until mid-January?”

The reason you’re seeing this now is because a few weeks following the 1st of January is when most people give up on their resolutions, or realize how unsustainable they are.

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Now, I don’t want you to see that as a negative – in fact, I view it as a good thing! Once you realize what is sustainable vs. unsustainable for you in terms of progress toward your goals, you can set out with a better plan to achieve them.

In general, achieving goals can be hard, especially if you set them up to be big and vague. When it comes to New Year’s resolutions, they’re usually pretty life-changing goals that require some making big behavior and mindset changes that last way beyond that hopeful end-of-year feeling – and making those changes is way easier said than done.

You don’t have to get stuck in this endless cycle, though.  Making your New Year’s resolutions a reality comes down to how you set them up. It’s all about making them smarter, measurable, and more achievable.

I’m breaking down 7 things you should be doing as you (re)set your 2021 resolutions to make sure that you’re successful in turning over a new leaf this year.

1. Keep it positive

First things first: make sure that you’re setting goals that you’re actually excited about!

A lot of us set some pretty severe goals for ourselves during the New Year because we’re desperate for change. But, if these are so severe that we can’t enjoy the process as we look forward to the end result, then we’re way less likely to want to put in the work when things get hard.

No, the work that it takes to achieve your resolutions probably isn’t always going to be fun, but it should still be a process that you can find some enjoyment in if you want to keep those changes coming all year long.

2. Give yourself some deadlines.

Just like having strict deadlines can keep you on track for work or school, putting a timeline on your goals can create a progressive framework for your resolutions.

Making your goals measurable is a great way to keep yourself on track, and setting deadlines is a great measure of time. Give yourself some “due dates” for your most important goals so you can come up with more specific plans to make them happen.

3. Make them specific.

Speaking of specific …

If your goals are specific, you’re way more likely to make them a reality. One study found that making specific and achievable goals made people perform 90% better than those who set vague goals! [*]

So, instead of making a general resolution like “I’m going to eat healthier,” make it more specific. For example:

  • “I’m going to eat vegetables with every meal.”
  • “I’m limiting eating out to once a week.”
  • “I’m going to stop reaching for second helpings.”

This will make your goals more applicable to you. It also makes it easier for you to measure, monitor, and see your progress.

4. Make sure they’re actually realistic.

It might sound obvious, but one good way to make sure that you never achieve your New Year’s resolution is by setting it up so that it’s impossible for you to achieve.

It’s good to set challenging goals for yourself to keep growing, but you shouldn’t make them so high that you’re just setting yourself up for failure. For example, you probably wouldn’t want to make it a resolution to run a marathon by March if you’re out of shape and have no running experience at all. Your goals should be a stretch, but not so much that you wouldn’t realistically be able to do them.

Of course, it’s important to note that what’s realistic for one person might not be realistic for someone else. Make sure that you’re being honest with yourself and making your resolutions for the new year achievable for you.

5. Give yourself rewards along the way.

When it comes to achieving goals, it’s easy to get discouraged, especially if your resolution is a long-term one. We tend to like seeing results right away, and even though this just isn’t applicable for most big goals, it can still be demotivating when you can’t see progress in real-time.

Fight the boredom and fatigue by giving yourself rewards along the way. For example, if you have a big weight loss goal that you’d like to achieve by the end of the year, celebrate with a day of self-care or buy yourself a present for every ten pounds you lose.

You’ll be more motivated this way, both in the short-term and for the long haul.

6. Make room for when things go wrong.

You know that saying, “Hope for the best, prepare for the worst”? It’s a great one to apply as you’re mapping out your plan to achieve your New Year’s resolution.

Many of our goals are going to come with their fair share of challenges – otherwise, we probably wouldn’t be in the position of setting them as our New Year’s resolutions!  But if you don’t plan for those challenges to come up, you might be setting yourself up for failure.

Always make contingency plans so you can manage the tough times and not let them throw you off-course. Also, remember that little setbacks aren’t the end of the world, and learn to simply move on if you do experience some roadblocks.

7. Remember: The little things add up.

It can be hard to see clearly when you have huge goals, so one great way to make them achievable is by breaking them down into smaller milestones throughout the year. This can make an overwhelmingly big goal seem a little more achievable, and you’ll be able to feel the accomplishment throughout the process, rather than getting lost and discouraged.

Setting good goals and making meaningful New Year’s resolutions all come down to how you’re approaching them. Make them smarter so that you can more easily see progress and finally become the you that you want to be this year!

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