How to Keep Your New Year's Resolutions

One of the most cringe-worthy things I repeatedly hear, and see on social media, from late December to early February is "new year, new me!" As humans, we're programed to consistently want new things, which translates itself through a longing to improve oneself and a feeling of inadequacy. In an effort to fight these feelings, we tend to set un-realistic, and often unhealthy, goals for ourselves that lead to failure and to an even greater feeling of inadequacy. Every year we treat the first few days of January as a fresh start and welcome a healthier, happier, and more wholesome version of ourselves. For most of us who set resolutions for the new year, goals like training for a marathon or learning a new language quickly drop to the bottom of our list of priorities. Gyms that were overflowing on the 1st of January are *mysteriously* a lot less crowded a month into the new year. 

If every year you jump right into resolutions only to drop them by January 15th, don't fret. The key is to set your goals in a manner that will set you up for success. Read on to learn about my top tips for sticking with your New Year's Resolutions.

1. Set realistic goals: The most common problem that people make when setting New Year's resolutions is setting unattainable and unrealistic goals. If you're striving to live a healthier lifestyle, don't make your goal to drop 30 lbs by Spring Break, especially if you haven't exercised since high school. Instead, set goals like working out more often, practicing yoga every week, and cutting out junk foods that you can live without. Realistic goals include eating more vegetables with your meals, using your phone less, making more time for yourself, and starting a budget. 

2. Start small. Set a few overall resolutions that you would like to incorporate into your lifestyle, and then slowly add to them as the year goes on. Visualize where you'd like to see yourself in 3 months, 6 months, and at the end of the year and add goals as you go about changing your lifestyle. One of my small goals includes flossing my teeth every night. You might think that's silly, but it only takes a minute of my day and makes me feel like I'm capable of leading a healthier lifestyle and more confident to take on bigger changes.

3. Be specific: You might be thinking "isn't wanting to lose 30 lbs specific though?" And yes, while that's true, it's almost too specific. Instead of setting a specific amount of weight you want to lose, aim to workout a specific amount times per week, eating a specific amount of vegetables every day, and drinking a minimum of 8 glasses of water per day. These are easy things that you can add into your lifestyle, and will become habitual with time without the need to consistently track your progress. Aiming to read more might not motivate you enough, while reading 1 book per week can seem intimidating. Instead, a simpler way to approach reading more would be to read every night before bed, even if it's only a few pages. Not only is this helping you achieve your goal of reading more books over time, but it will also help you have a better quality sleep.

4. Ease into it: So many people make the mistake of quitting all of their old "bad habits" cold turkey, which almost never works out in their favor. Some habits are actually unhealthy, like smoking cigarettes, binge drinking, or not sleeping enough, but other habits that we consider "bad" are just a part of learning to live a balanced lifestyle. Sleeping in until 11am every now and then isn't as bad as you think it is, no matter how much you beat yourself up over it. If you're not a morning person, however, setting an effective-immediately goal of starting your day at 6am will wear you out and will definitely not last. Instead, try waking up 5-10 minutes earlier than usual every week and slowly reach your goal of becoming a morning person. If you planned to start 2018 by exercising more, start a fitness plan that gradually increases the intensity and frequency of your workouts rather than jumping straight into arduous fitness classes that will do more physical and mental harm than good. Apps like the Nike Training Club are not only free, but are like your own personal trainer. I swear by this app and can honestly say that I have never been in better shape than when I consistently use it. You can choose between individual, targeted workouts, or 4, 6 and 8-week plans that adjust to your hectic schedule and allow you to build up to your desired fitness level. 

5. Anticipate obstacles: Life is all about balance and you can't experience the highs without experiencing the lows. At times it will be harder to stick to your goals, but it's important to remember that sometimes things come up and you have to put your resolutions aside for a moment. If your goal was to be in bed by 10pm every night but your friend's birthday dinner doesn't end until 11:30pm, don't freak out about messing up that one time! Allow room for adjustments and fallbacks. Just because you had 1 Reese's peanut butter cup doesn't mean your plans to live a healthier lifestyle are completely foiled. Go into the new year accepting that sometimes you'll go a day having to skip a few workouts because of a busy workweek, or that you might not always end up getting your intended 8 hours of sleep because you're celebrating your last semester of college. Your chance to start anew doesn't have to come only once a year; every day is a new day!

6. Think of it as a lifestyle change: Rather than simply looking at your resolutions as goals, look at them as new habits to form that will eventually become a part of your daily routine. Don't just make workouts a requirement for yourself, but look at them as living a more active lifestyle. One thing I have yet to mention, but which I consider to be very important, is your mindset. Changing your lifestyle doesn't have to mean cutting out dairy and meat, or joining Barry's Bootcamp. Leading a healthier lifestyle can also mean living a happier life by simply changing the way you think about things. The best way to go into a new year is to stop apologizing for things you shouldn't have to apologize for like prioritizing yourself, to try to stop thinking negatively about yourself and others, and to learn to let go of things. I read a book over break called The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck by Mark Manson and it taught me that when we choose our values (ie. honesty, loyalty, standing up for ourselves, etc.) we choose the things that we'd like to give a fuck about, and realize how insignificant small details and annoying occurrences can be. 

Cover Photo by Tirachard Kumtanom from Pexels https://www.pexels.com/photo/white-notes-beside-a-pencil-on-brown-wooden-surface-733854/