3 steps to actually make your resolutions happen.
It’s just about that time again; New Year’s Eve brings about all kinds of “resolutions” that people ascribe to. Lots of people scoff at the idea, but just setting one makes you 10x more likely to achieve it.
“Cosmetic” weight loss is a given for most people – we’d all like to look a little better. For some, though, the goals seem a little tougher. Maybe you don’t have just 10 pounds to lose, and it’s hard to get around because of an injury or illness. Maybe you’ve come to a realization that, yeah, you could stand to lay off the sauce and cigarettes a bit. Perhaps you’ve had your last mind-numbing day at your current job, and you want to advance your career by learning a new skill.
You only get out what you put in when it comes to goals like these, so you need to be very clear with yourself about what you are actually developing.
Discipline, not “motivation”
If your goal relies on you being endlessly happy and excited to pursue your goal for the entire year, you’re going to have an incredibly difficult time accomplishing it. In fact, I’ll be straight with you, you’ll likely end up like the other 92% of people who fall off, or only achieve a portion of the success that they set out to make.
It’s best to recognize that you’re not developing a temporary habit, or doing this when you truly feel like doing it – you are developing the all-important skill of discipline. When flimsy motivation fails, hard-earned discipline will take over. When you wake up on January 31st and know you need to get to the gym, but it’s cold outside of your blankets, and your dog is laying on top of you, and you feel exhausted already, discipline is what will continue to get you out of bed. When your friends all go out on another smoke break, discipline (and maybe a patch or piece of gum) is what will keep you from joining them. When you get home from a grueling day and the last thing you want to do is sit at a desk and do more work, discipline will get your butt in that chair.
Don’t set out to get “motivated” to do your work, work on developing the discipline to do it.
Consistency, not “perfection”
Humans are imperfect beings. Life is busier than ever. And sometimes, we don’t always finish our to-do list. The second you start beating yourself up about not achieving perfection is the second you will begin to slip out of a disciplined state of mind. “I already screwed up once, so what’s the point,” is the type of thinking that will derail the most dedicated of people.
Don’t aim for perfection. Instead, aim to be as consistent as possible with your routine. Say you cave and have a cigarette one day. Fine, ok, you’re not perfect, and you’re trying to quit an addictive substance. Start over tomorrow. Can’t make it to the gym six days a week? Set a more realistic goal of three to five days a week, and make them count.
You might think that this contradicts the first point in this article, but actually, the two principles go hand in hand. Consistent performance over a long period of time, even with hiccups, is what really will develop discipline. The ability to recover from a bad day will decrease your reliance on motivation.
Milestones, not “set in stone”
Hear me out: setting an end date and having a plan is absolutely a great way to divide up the year a bit and also gauge your progress on the way. However, as we’ve stated before, humans are imperfect and as the saying goes, “everyone has a plan until you get punched in the face.”
It’s important to not only shoot for a date but to also set specific milestones that you will celebrate as you achieve them. Ideally, you would have double the milestones to the amount of “goal dates” you’re setting. So, you’re shooting for 40 pounds off by December? Your first milestone is getting to the gym consistently for a week. The next might be 5 pounds off. Then 10, then 20, then dropping a size. You can try to “date” some of these goals, but don’t get discouraged if you don’t hit the exact day. Just keep heading toward that next milestone, and celebrate when you make it. Regardless of the timeframe, your consistency and discipline are paying off.
Do you have a resolution for this year? What is it?