Last week, I heard on the radio that it was “National Quitters Day” and the DJ presented the fact that most people quit their New Year's Resolutions by the 3rd Friday in January. This made me wonder… how is it that people can so quickly give up on their goals and desires for themselves? If it’s something truly important, why do so many people simply quit?
In therapy, all of my clients set goals and intentions and we check in often regarding progress toward goals. Many people use the New Year as a jumping-off point to restart and implement life changes. Unsurprisingly, changing habits and sticking to goals can be difficult. If making the change were easy, we would have done it already.
If you find yourself rethinking your resolutions, here are some helpful tips to help you (or your loved ones) RESOLVE to stick to them.
Go easy on yourself! If you happen to miss a day of working towards your goal or slip up, it’s ok! The inclination can easily be to rationalize our way out of something once we start slipping up. As the saying goes, “Don’t throw the baby away with the bath water.” Take each day as a new opportunity to start fresh and try again tomorrow. Attempt to be flexible with yourself and watch out for negative or judgmental thoughts.
What is standing in your way? Consider what stops you from working toward the goal. Can you identify any obstacles within your control that can be removed? Are you questioning your ability or capabilities?
Is your resolution a reasonable and achievable goal? Do you need to readjust your vision of your goal so that you can make progress? For example, if your goal was to run a marathon by February and you have never run a day in your life, it might not be an achievable goal. Consider if you need to adjust your goal and set individual deadlines throughout the year until you reach your end goal. It is perfectly fine to adjust your goals to something more suitable for you.
Imagine what life will look like once the change is made: Create a strong vision in your mind. Imagine how you will feel once you achieve your goal. Think about the positive changes that will happen. Is it worth the hard work? When you have a clear picture of your new and improved self, it can motivate you to work harder.
Set your Intention: How badly do you want that thing? If the goal does not have enough desire and drive behind it, we might not put as much effort into it. Take a moment to reflect on why you have set that goal. What makes it significant to you? Is its purpose aligned with your values and what you consider important?
Figure out what works with your current life circumstances: depending on the day, the hour, and the circumstances, we may need to reroute and adjust based on what is happening around us. For example: on a snow day with kids at home, you might not be able to exercise for an hour. However, we can find alternative ways to stay active, such as having a jumping jacks competition with our kids, doing a yoga routine, or a shorter workout. Some days we might need to be more creative in determining ways to accomplish our goal.
Find an accountability partner: See if there is someone in your life who can help keep you on track. Telling your goals to another person often helps us to feel more beholden to our goals.
Remember that getting into a routine takes time. Maintaining a routine takes focus and determination. Keep going!
“You don't have to see the whole staircase, just take the first step.” – Martin Luther King, Jr.