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4 Strategies to Help You Stick to Your New Year's Resolutions

At the start of our new year, one thing comes to mind: New Year’s Resolutions.

Studies show that only 8% of individuals achieve their resolutions every year. Heck, I can’t even remember what my new year’s resolution was by the end of each year.

Why do we suck at achieving our goals?

Some studies suggest that we aren’t specific enough when making our goals, and our goals are too vague. Others suggest that the timelines we create for our goals are too long, which makes them feel out of reach. Lastly, we seem to frame our goals negatively, which makes it difficult to enjoy the process of reaching them.

As a personal trainer, I experience the same pattern annually. I get a flood of emails and inquiries heading into the new year with clients ready to hit the ground running starting the first week of January. This motivated me to share some tips that I’ve learned from the clients who have been consistent in achieving their goals.

1. Start TODAY

The clients who seemed to have achieved the most success with their objectives are the ones who are eager to start working towards their goals right NOW. They want to start as soon as they can, not “on Monday”, or “next month”. They wanted to start yesterday.

So when you set your goal, start working towards it immediately. The sooner you feel like you are achieving results, the closer you are to your end goal.

2. Make mini-goals

I recently read “An Astronaut's Guide to Life on Earth” by the Canadian astronaut, Chris Hadfield. When he was a young boy, he knew he wanted to become an astronaut, and from that point onwards, every decision and action he made was in service of that goal. He didn’t become an astronaut overnight, but every day he worked towards that goal, one textbook, one flight, one training session at a time.

Setting a new year’s resolution is a big deal. A lot happens in a year and it’s easy to lose direction. Try to break your larger goal down into smaller, more achievable “mini-goals” that you can work towards throughout your year.

3. Make it a priority

Whether your goal is to exercise more, read 20 books, or do a handstand, it’s important that you put these objectives at the forefront of your priorities.

What this means is that your goals are non-negotiable and should be the first thing that’s scheduled into your calendar.

Be honest with the people who ask you to do things that might interfere with your goals. One of my goals is to ensure that I give myself an 8-hour sleep opportunity (doesn’t always happen, but I’m working on it). When clients ask if I have later appointment times, I tell them that sleep is something that I prioritize, so it’s important for me to set limitations on how late I work in the evenings. So far I haven’t had anyone challenge that. In fact, most people are supportive and say something like “good for you… I should actually do that more”.

4. Have Fun

When we make resolutions or set goals for ourselves, it’s often for something that we don’t necessarily enjoy. Working towards our goals feels like a chore, something we have to force ourselves to do.

I don’t know about you, but I tend to gravitate towards activities that I enjoy doing more, and I don’t have as much of a problem finding time to fit these enjoyable activities into my life.

Before setting a goal, I think it’s important to first ask ourselves WHY we’re doing what we’re doing. What is our motive behind our goal? If the achievement of our goals is intrinsically rewarding, then we’ll be more likely to have success.

I’ve started to rephrase the way I state my goals in a more positive light.

For example, instead of saying: “I’m going to read more this year”, I’ll say: “I’m going to find more books that I can’t stop reading this year!”. This way, I don’t have to force myself to read books I’m not enjoying.

“Living a vibrant and meaningful life is bound to be messy” -Jess Eckstrom

Life is messy and unpredictable. We might not achieve all the goals we set out for ourselves, but it doesn't mean that we can't try to be 1% better every day.

Be kind to yourself, love the journey, and appreciate your capacity to change!

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