Admit it, you’ve probably fallen by the wayside with your new year’s resolutions in the past. This is something most of us have experienced; we start each year with a new sense of motivation, but that feeling of productivity only lasts a short period of time before we find ourselves falling back into the exact same habits a few months later. If want to make this year different and finally make lasting lifestyle changes, here are a few tips to keep you committed:
Think About The Long-Term Mission
One reason people fail to accomplish their goals is that it can be really hard to keep the big picture in mind when you’re so focused on the everyday changes you have to make to get there. Let’s say, for example, that you’ve always wanted to get out of debt, but you never manage to pay off more than you end up putting back on your credit cards, so it feels like you’re just spinning your wheels. If you’re carrying even the average credit card debt of around $15,654 and stuck in this frustrating pattern, it can be almost impossible to picture how you could possibly manage to unbury yourself from debt.
While getting out of debt is a process that requires commitment and sacrifice, if you’re so focused on the everyday changes you’ll have to make to better manage your money, you’ll more easily feel defeated. You may even miss out on opportunities to pay off debt quickly and more affordably, like taking advantage of a low-interest balance transfer, because you fail to see the big financial picture. A balance transfer may seem like it’s just moving the location of the debt, but it can actually save you hundreds or even thousands of dollars in unnecessary interest payments if done strategically.
Whether you’re trying to take back control of your finances or you’re working toward a healthier lifestyle, becoming hyper-focused on the everyday changes you have to make to accomplish your goals can be overwhelming and demoralizing, so make sure you keep the long-term mission front and center in your daily life. Daily visualization can help you alter your mindset and stay focused on those long-term goals that always seem impossible until they’re done.
But Make Short-Term Sprints
While it’s critical to keep your long-term mission in mind to stay motivated, you’re still going to need to break that big goal into smaller parts and short-term goals to accomplish (and celebrate) along the way. You don’t need to look any further than the classic new year’s resolution to lose that holiday weight and get in shape to see just how quickly things can unravel without short-term goals to help you assess your progress and gain momentum.
In January, you’re super committed — you’re buying healthy groceries, cooking meals at home, drinking tons of water, and getting to the gym. You don’t really have a plan or any habits you’re focusing on in particular, you’re just committed to doing everything you can to overhaul your life. You’re determined to become one of the less than 3 percent of Americans who live a healthy lifestyle, according to that Atlantic article you read last week. You are doing this!
But then it’s February, and with no real plan to change your diet, you’re getting really bored with the same few healthy recipes you know by heart. You forgot how overbooked you are this month, and you didn’t meal plan, so you’re back to swinging by the drive-thru on the way home. You didn’t pace yourself and set up short-term sprints, and now you’re exhausted and have no plan of attack to get back in the race. This is why you need to focus on building realistic habits gradually.
Focus On One Thing At A Time
While it can be exciting to fantasize about adopting a completely different lifestyle all at once, that’s neither realistic nor sustainable. Change is difficult for us, and trying to take on too much, too fast is a recipe for disaster. We end up spreading ourselves too thin, failing to meet our goals, and feeling defeated. That’s why it’s so important to keep your focus on one goal or change at a time.
One great example is quitting smoking; according to CBS News, the U.S. smoking rate has dropped an average of 2 percent each year since 2015, which is a huge amount of smokers giving up the habit. One reason people are finding it easier to quit is that they are focusing on switching over to vaporizers, recently popularized by brands like Juul, who offer vaping experiences that more closely imitate traditional smoking but allow users to wean themselves from the drug nicotine and the habit of smoking more gradually. Smokers are able to focus on the transition to the healthier vaping alternative first, then move on to reducing their dependence on nicotine itself, improving success rates.
Sticking to your resolutions all year is no easy task, but with hard work and daily dedication, it can be accomplished. What challenges are you taking on in the new year?