When the ball drops and the calendar turns to January 1, we turn the page to a brand-new year. And if you're like most people, you probably kick off that fresh start by setting New Year's resolutions. After all, it's a new year, new you, right?
But the truth is that a third of those who make a New Year's resolution will break it by the end of January. So if you truly want to become the best you, what's the secret sauce? Here are 10 tips to help you stay on track with your goals and resolutions.
With the clean start of a new year, it's tempting to fill it with a long list of sky-high goals. However, you're probably setting yourself up for some major letdown. Instead, be realistic. Start small and gradually. For example, if you've never run before, don't set out to run a marathon right away. Instead, aim to walk and run a couple times a week and build up to longer running intervals. In the end, specific, measurable, achievable, results-focused, and time-bound (SMART) goals work best. This way, you have a very clear idea of what you want to achieve and what you need to do to get there.
Break It Up
Big, audacious goals can be exhilarating to think about, but they can also be intimidating, which may mean that you're less likely to stick with them. Instead, break up your goals into smaller and achievable chunks. Plus, if you've set SMART goals, you'll have built-in benchmarks to help keep you accountable.
Write It Down
Once you come up with your goals or resolutions for the new year, write them down. In fact, research from Dominican University of California found that those who wrote down their goals were more likely to achieve them.
Find Your Tribe
One of the best ways to stay on track is to share your goals with your friends and family. In the same aforementioned study, 70 percent of participants sent weekly updates to friends and were more successful in achieving their goals than those who didn't. Whether it's family, friends, or an online community, your tribe can help keep you accountable, while also offering support and encouragement when you're struggling.
Don't Break the Chain
Setting a goal and sharing it with your tribe is the first step to sticking to your New Year's resolutions. The second is to track your goals for regular feedback. Whether you write checks on a calendar or earn badges on an app, once you start to see your progress, you won't want to break the chain.
Choose a Word of the Year
If you find that setting specific goals doesn't motivate or inspire you, choose a word of the year instead. This one word will serve as your focus for the year—a touchpoint to help guide your decisions and actions for the year. Your word can be anything that resonates with you and how you want to live your life.
Create a Vision Board
In many ways, a vision board is one big visualization exercise. It's a representation of your goals and aspirations, and another way to remind yourself of what you're working toward.
Don't Be Afraid to Change Course
Sometimes what seems like a meaningful resolution in January doesn't have the same ring to it in May. A lot can happen over the course of a few months, and sometimes life gets in the way or you realize that your original goal isn't the best fit for you. And that's OK. Set time aside to regularly evaluate your goals. Sometimes that means scaling back on what you thought you wanted to achieve and sometimes that means doing a 180 and changing direction completely.
We've all slipped up with New Year's resolutions at one time or another. But here's the thing—it's not the end of the world. So if the excitement surrounding your new goals and resolutions starts to fade by the end of February, don't worry. Luckily, there isn't a New Year's resolution police watching for slip ups, and you can always start over.
New Year's is a convenient time to set goals. But frankly, it's an arbitrary date on the calendar. Setting goals or intentions on January 1 isn't any different from setting them on February 7, for example. The truth is that you can start anytime.
It's easy to get swept up in the excitement of starting the new year with a clean slate and a long list of lofty resolutions. But with a little planning, and these 10 tips, you can stay on track with your New Year's resolutions.