With 2018 just around the corner, everyone is gearing up for New Year’s resolutions and making grandiose plans for self-improvement over the next twelve months. But, unfortunately, most well-intentioned resolutions don’t last long. In fact, over 80% of goal-setters fall off the bandwagon by the end of January.
So, if you’re setting fitness, health, or wellness goals for the new year, how can you make sure that your goals last longer than your leftover Christmas cookies?
Here are five simple things that will help you stick to your goals, stay motivated, and make real progress during 2018.
FOCUS ON THE ACTION (NOT THE RESULT)
Too many resolutions focus on the end result. Lose twenty pounds. Get washboard abs. Fit back into those jeans at the back of the closet. Start going to the gym. Unfortunately, none of those goals are very action-oriented—and goals that aren’t action-oriented are rarely accomplished.
So, instead of focusing on your desired outcome (as motivating as that may be!), focus on the action steps that you’ll take to get there. Stop eating soda, fries, and ice cream. Complete an abs workout three times a week. Attend a group fitness class every Tuesday and Saturday. Only drink one cup of coffee a day.
CHANGE ONE HABIT AT A TIME
You may want to make a host of lifestyle changes in the new year, but you’re more likely to reach your goals and make lasting progress if you focus on one area at a time. Because, unfortunately, it’s impossible to become a new person overnight! Our old habits are deeply ingrained, and our brains are wired to hang on to these old patterns, pathways, and beliefs.
So, instead of trying to fix your finances, your relationships, your fitness, your sleep patterns, your eating habits, and your other lifestyle choices all at once, focus on one habit at a time. Once you’ve integrated that new habit into your life, add the next one. And just keep going.
DITCH THE “ALL OR NOTHING” MENTALITY
When you want to make big changes in your life, it often feels like you have to take big actions. But that’s really not the case.
Want to lose eighty pounds? Your default mindset might lead you to believe that you need to make huge habit shifts, all at once—like working out for two hours a day, seven days a week, or following a strict Paleo diet and only consuming 1,100 calories each day. But if you try to completely overhaul your lifestyle, with the flip of a switch, you’re much more likely to get discouraged, make mistakes, and fall off the bandwagon by the second week of January.
Instead, start with something small and manageable, like drinking eight glasses of water every day or quitting your late night snacking habit. These small habit shifts will begin to create a “snowball effect” and lead to massive change, one baby step at a time.
MAKE A FAILURE PLAN
A year is a long time. And a lot of unexpected things can happen in 365 days. So, if your goal is to quit eating dairy or to hit the gym five times a week, it’s possible that you’ll slip up at some time during 2018. You’ll find a pint of ice cream in the freezer, at the end of a particularly bad day, or you’ll skip an entire week of workouts while on vacation.
Without a failure plan, you might be tempted to give up when you hit these road bumps (“Well, I’ve failed at my workout plan. Might as well wait til next year to get fit.”). But, with a plan of action, you’ll be ready to return to your goals with even more motivation and commitment.
So, what are you going to do when you’re finishing that last bite of ice cream and a wave of guilt hits you? How are you going to forgive yourself and also motivate yourself to move forward? How are you going to hit the reset button and get back on track with confidence?
CELEBRATE EVERY MILESTONE
When the initial motivation wears off, you’ll still have a long road ahead of you. Change takes time, consistency, and commitment—three things that we often don’t have a lot of patience for.
Celebrating even the smallest of milestones is a great way to maintain your motivation and keep going when the going gets tough.
So, find healthy ways to celebrate your progress—whether you’ve completed your first week of workouts, finally run an entire mile without a walk break, or skipped dessert for ten meals in a row.
We hope these strategies help you set practical, realistic, and motivating goals for the next year. Cheers to a new year filled with growth and progress!