Making New Year’s resolutions is the easy part. The hard part comes when the force of habit grabs you and tries to convince you to abandon your hopes for self-improvement.
Don’t succumb to the beckoning of inertia, though. Stay strong and realize your New Year’s resolutions with a few easy tips.
1. Focus on small actions
The secret to dramatic change lies in focusing on small things. Try the Japanese concept of kaizen, which involves tackling one small change at a time. The idea is that by amassing a series of small changes, you achieve big things.
So, if you wanted to lose weight, identify one part of your day where you’re especially tempted to indulge. Maybe when your energy drags in the late afternoon, the vending machine at work tempts you with sugary delights.
When 3 p.m. rolls around and your sweet tooth starts singing, focus on getting past the craving. Do whatever you have to — walk around the block, have a cup of tea, or maybe even enjoy a piece of fruit.
Once you train yourself to avoid late afternoon sugary treats, focus on the next thing. The key to kaizen is to avoid tackling everything at once. That way your resolutions seem manageable.
2. Set aside money every month
For goals that require money, set aside a small sum every month until you’ve amassed enough to achieve your goal.
If you want to visit Ireland, but find the trans-Atlantic flight busts your budget, calculate how much you’ll need to make the trip a reality. Divide that number by a number of months until you get a reasonable figure.
So let’s say a trip you want to take costs $2,000. If you put away $167 dollars per month for 12 months, you’ll have enough money. If $167 is out of your reach, can you save $83 a month over two years?
Every time you skip that Starbucks or stay in and watch a movie instead of going out, envision yourself boarding that plane. Bon voyage!
3. Define specific, reasonable goals
So your New Year’s resolution is read more. What does that mean exactly? How many books do you want to read over the next year?
A key characteristic of attainable goals is knowing exactly what you want to achieve, and making sure that goal fits comfortably within your abilities.
Let’s say you want to read one book per month. Select a book you want to read, and divide the number of pages by 30. That’s the number of pages you’ll have to read per day to finish the book by the end of the month.
If the number is too high, pick a shorter book or decrease the number of books you want to read that year. Your committed self might gasp at the idea of decreasing your goal, but you’re realistic self will thank you when you actually achieve the goals you set out to reach.
How do you plan to reach your New Year’s resolutions?
Image by Bureau of Land Management via Flickr