New Year, New You
How to Avoid the 80%
Christmas is over. OVER. Just like that, the music is gone, decorations have vanished, ABC’s 25 Days of Christmas has wrapped and Lifetime completely cuts you off like it never even happened. It’s enough to send anyone into a downward spiral of depressive withdrawal.
As we barrel towards the sludge I call January we start to search for something else to look forward to and another outlet for our holiday merriment: New Year’s Day. The countdown, the kiss at midnight, the promise of a fresh start and a new beginning. It all sounds so exciting and invigorating. The first day of a whole new year – what better time to kick it into gear? We set resolutions, commit to lifestyle changes, freshen up the bucket list and swear that this time for sure is going to be different. The ball drops to ceremoniously usher in “the new me.”
Sound familiar? ME.
80% of New Year’s resolutions are abandoned by February. ALSO ME.
EIGHTY percent. Seriously? That rate sounds about as encouraging as feeding a toddler brussel sprouts topped with sauerkraut. I stewed over that statistic for a while and tried to disprove it altogether with excellent research and…googling…but quit vetting the validity of the study after realizing from personal experience how it makes total sense and is probably pretty accurate.
But why? What makes New Year’s resolutions so doggone hard to keep? Making any life change, even a small one, requires more than good intentions. If you’re setting resolutions for the new year, these six tips will help you avoid the 80%:
- Focus on goals, not resolutions.
Both have important purposes but there is a difference between the two. Think of a resolution as the final, long-term outcome and the goals as the smaller steps it takes to get there. It’s important to keep the end game in mind but without goals in between you’ll slide right towards the 80%. Resolutions are oftentimes approached with an all or nothing attitude and while cold turkey may be the best way to commit for some, for most it doesn’t jive long-term. Resolutions help reinforce lifelong changes while the goals provide attainable milestones to keep you motivated in the meantime. Re-working your resolutions into a more goal-oriented process can make a big difference in your outcomes.
- What do YOU want to do?
Want to jump right into the 80%? Try giving your all to accomplish a goal someone else has set for you. If you don’t really care about your goal, you’re setting yourself up for a frustrating, discouraging, and probably pretty quick journey. Take some time to reflect and decide what’s really important to you, with the emphasis on YOU. Motivation is born from a value or belief you truly value and something meaningful enough to justify the time, energy, and effort it’ll take to get the job done. Get out a piece of paper and write down everything you’d like to accomplish, both big and small. Sky’s the limit. Try your best to filter out what you think you should do, what you think should be important, or what others are saying you need to do. There is no one alive who is youer than you. You do you, mama!
- What are you READY to do?
You may have decided what you want to do, but the success of your goal comes down to one question: are you ready to change? Wanting to change and being ready to change are very different mentalities and while we may truly want to do different, good intentions alone won’t get the job done. Be honest with yourself and decide whether or not you’re really ready to make the life changes necessary to commit to something new…and hard…because change is HARD. It can take time, energy, patience, sleep, planning, sanity, support, money, resilience, and strength. If you don’t have any of that to spare right now and life is crazy enough already, it’s okay. Let me repeat: IT’S OKAY. Rome wasn’t built in a day and life changes aren’t built in a year. If it’s truly something you value, it’ll still be there when life calms down. Developing the self-awareness to know your limits takes a lot of strength, too.
- Start small and go with the flow.
Have a goal you can’t shake but know you’re not ready to commit? You may be more ready than you think. If you feel like your goal is too big to tackle, break it waaaaaaay down into something smaller and measurable. Smaller steps can make change feel a little less daunting and overwhelming while still keeping you motivated. A lot of goals take time to see results, especially those around health and money, so setting smaller goals will give you the chance to celebrate the smaller (but equally important) successes and boost your confidence along the way. Want to save more money? Start out with $20 a month and increase throughout the year. Want to lose 50 pounds but haven’t had success losing more than 20? Set a more attainable goal of 15 and reevaluate when you hit that number. Or drop the number altogether and focus on exercising three times a week instead. Be flexible and adjust as you go. It’s your goal and you can do whatever the heck you want.
- Start in the spring.
Hear me out on this one. Raise your hand if you feel rested, reinvigorated, and energized right after Christmas. If your hand is up and you’re not lying, I commend you because I feel the exact opposite: full of joy and happiness, yes, but also exhausted, lethargic, and still nearly comatose from stuffing my face all day/week/month. It takes me until Valentine’s Day just to fully recover the house, purge abandoned toys, and find homes for all the new schtuff. The very last thing I want to do is anything else. I know, I know, there’s a certain symbolism of a January 1st D-day; new year, new start, new you. But a goal for the new year doesn’t mean you have to literally start on day one. New Year’s Day is a single day on the calendar. There are 364 others to choose from, and it may be a good idea to choose a day after fully recovering from the holiday fatigue. Take the first couple months of the new year to mentally prepare and get your head in the game for the changes to come. I know March doesn’t quite have the luster of New Year’s Day, but March has SPRING, and if that’s not a season for new beginnings I don’t know what else is.
- Shrug it off and carry on.
So you fell into the 80%. Meh. So did 80% of everyone else. Falling off the bandwagon doesn’t mean you have to completely abandon your goal. Figure out what didn’t work, adjust accordingly, and try try again. You have the rest of the year to tweak and figure out what’s going to work and not work. Most people who have achieved any goal can attest to falling off the bandwagon multiple times in the process. Change is a journey of trial and error. Be patient with yourself and try to accept a little of the same grace you offer everyone else. You may feel bruised and discouraged but what really matters is how you keep trying. In the end, the juice will be worth the squeeze and you’ll come out stronger and more resilient than before.
Listen mamas, even Mother Nature gets tired and shuts down for a few months. Literally nothing in nature blooms all year long, so don’t expect yourself to either. Whatever you choose to take on this year, whether it be big or small or nothing at all, may the odds be ever in your favor.