With New Years Eve coming up this weekend, I couldn’t not do a post about New Years resolutions. I’ve been talking about 2017 goals with my clients for a few weeks to help them feel confident and prepared, so today I want to talk a little about how to make those aspirations reality.
According to data from from the Journal of Clinical Psychology, 45% of Americans set New Year’s Resolutions. In 2015, the top New Years Resolutions were to lose weight, get organized, and spend less, save more. Of those people who set resolutions, only about 8% are reportedly successful in meeting those goals.
So why bother? Because meeting the goals you set for yourself feels awesome.Whether your goals for 2017 relate to health, work, family, money, or something else, here are some ways to make those efforts stick:
*Choose one or just a few goals instead of many. This study from the Journal of Consumer Research shows that writing out a detailed plan and choosing one main goal worked better than focusing on several of them. Ever feel like sometimes you have so many goals or tasks to keep track of they end up competing with each other? Yep. Same deal. Need help figuring out which goal(s) to prioritize? Take a look at the year past for some insight about what’s challenging for you and what your natural strengths are. It may also show you something about what you value most.
*Break large goals into smaller, measurable steps so you can track your progress. This is a big part of why I broke my business plan for 2017 into monthly goals instead of just “What I Want To Accomplish This Year.” I bought an InnerGuide planner this year because I loved the different prompts it has for the year, as well as each month and week. My mom loved it so much when she saw mine, she asked for one for Christmas. I’m excited to working with it this year. I bought up the orange one, but it comes in several colors.
*Put it in writing and post it somewhere you’ll see it regularly. This reminds you of what you want to accomplish and can help you stay motivated. Around my birthday in November, I made a vision board depicting how I want to feel this year and what I want to accomplish, and I have it near my desk where I can see it every day. I also have sticky-notes with my financial goals for this year hung up in places I’ll see them. Another way to do this is to change your passwords to mention your goal as well.
*Reward yourself. When you meet your goal or if you keep your resolution, give yourself a reward to reinforce those good habits and positive changes. I know I fall short on this one sometimes, but I’ve definitely found it easier to stay on track when I know what I’m working towards.
For example, one of my goals for the second half of 2016 was to edit my closet and drawers down to just the items I love. I even had a little mantra to repeat to myself when tempted to buy new things: Live in your clothes. As in, live in the clothes I have. Only buy clothes that I can live my life in—not clothes that are actually meant for someone else’s life or a life I don’t have. In the past, I found myself buying clothes when what I really wanted was the experiences associated with them (kind of like how a craving for an experience can spark food cravings), so I had a lot of stuff in my closet that really didn’t work for my day-to-day life or current lifestyle. Those Banana Republic pencil skirts I bought in 2012 and wore a few times to my hospital shifts were great back when I thought I was going to become a CDE and singlehandedly save the world from Diabetes, but, um, life has introduced me to some other interests along the way, and I’ve stopped tracking my diabetic counseling practice hours because I’m devoting my energy to those things I feel most drawn to do.
And let’s not even talk about some of the Urban Outfitter dresses and tops I bought when I was first online dating and spending lots of weeknights drinking stupid-pricey cocktails with Brooklyn hipster boys. Time to move on.
The hardest thing was actually the jewelry in the bedside table. I spent the better part of a whole weekend going through the stuff. I found items I’d totally forgotten about—and even some old love letters and a journal I didn’t remember keeping. Yikes! From a feng shui/energy perspective, probably not stuff one should keep beside the bed if they’re looking to move forward in life.
Saying “thank you and goodbye” to a bunch of clothes and jewelry was a bit like turning the page on certain chapters of my life. I had decided that, once I’d accomplished this, I would treat myself to a few new items that reflect my style and that I could start wearing right away without needing a special occasion or a change in my schedule or the weather. I took advantage of ModCloth’s end-of year sale last week. Getting an additional 30% off ALL sale styles was pretty sweet. If you’re looking to do a little post-purge closet replenishing, use code BYE2016 to stock up on must-haves. Sale on Sale: Extra 30% Off Everything In The Sale Section At ModCloth With Code BYE2016 (Ends 1/03 at 9 am EST).
*Make sure it’s a goal that matters to you. Trying to stick to a resolution you made because you thought you should or because someone else recommended it to you is a lot harder to stick to than one you set for yourself. Pick something that resonates with who you are and what you truly want to accomplish. I learned this one the hard way ages 22-25, when I was trying to please a partner by changing things about myself and tuning out my body’s cues and trying to follow a diet that wasn’t the right fit for my body—aka that time I tried to be a vegetarian and wound up with a painful bone injury and vitamin deficiencies. Finding a place to share that story was one of the highlights of 2016 for me.
What are your goals for the coming year?
This has been another installment of the Running with Spoons Thinking Out Loud link party, where randomness is the name of the game. Thanks to Amanda for hosting.
Disclosure: This post contains an affiliate link, but as I’ve said before, I only post these types of links for products and services I love and would recommend anyway.