Atypical rite of passage each new year is making New Year’s resolutions. It’s a chance for us to clean off our slates and start over. However, more often than not, we seem to be able to break those resolutions rather than keep them. Once broken, we give up and keep going on with whatever was detrimental in our lives.
Why stop? Whether you’re trying to budget yourself, spend less money, lose weight, or call your mom more, your resolutions are possible if you come up with a concrete plan, stay focused and positive, and motivate yourself to have the willpower to tackle those tough resolutions.
Any addiction, bad habit, et cetera, is extremely difficult to stop cold turkey and any major improvement can’t be made overnight. Instead of worrying that we’ve broken our resolutions after fourteen days, we should be optimistic about the amount of time that we have left in the year to keep those resolutions and improve ourselves. You’ll revert to your old habits occasionally, but that should be a setback rather than a reason to quit working towards what you want to achieve.
It’s important to remind yourself that major changes in habits or routines take effort and an amount of willpower that you’re probably not used to. When you don’t believe that you can accomplish your goals and resolutions, you’ll start to undermine yourself without realizing that you are. As cliche as it sounds, positive thinking can go a long way in terms of accomplishing what you’re striving for. Remind yourself of the positive effects that your goals will have on your life if you achieve them. Create a list of what will improve once you achieve your goals. That will motivate you to keep working hard toward your goals and resolutions.
Don’t challenge yourself to take on a bunch of tough goals. You may lose track of your goals and the end products that you want to achieve. Try setting one main long-term goal for yourself. You’ll be able to channel your energy into it and focus on your plan and your desired end products. Tell your friends and family what you are working toward. You’ll be able to have people to keep you accountable and you’ll thank them later once you’ve reached your finish line.
Making New Year’s resolutions should be the same as setting any goal. Make sure they are attainable and reasonable for you to accomplish in 365 days. Set steps that you can take so that at the end of the year, you can look back with pride at all you accomplished. If you’re tech-savvy, there are loads of smart phone apps that can help you keep track of and achieve your goals and have it accessible 24/7. Think of your New Year’s resolutions and goals as self improvement.
If you’re addicted to caffeine, don’t try and kick the habit in a week. It won’t work. I’ve tried to make this my resolution many years in a row. I wasn’t unsuccessful because it wasn’t an attainable goal, I was unsuccessful because I went about it in a way that didn’t work. Few people can put themselves on a rigorous habit-kicking plan and succeed.
If you want to stop a bad habit or cut an addiction like caffeine, it’s better to make your resolution less about eliminating completely and more about cutting back. Identify what triggers your bad habit and as you gradually start to cut back, it will be easier for you to eliminate when the time comes.
While you’re eliminating your habits, it could be helpful to add a positive goal while eliminating your negative habit. This will help distract you from triggers that may tempt you to return to your bad habits. Pick things that are cohesive so it’s easier for you to balance both. If you’re trying to cut back on junk food, try eating more fruits and vegetables and drinking more water. You’ll experience the health benefits of cutting out junk food as well as the benefits of eating a healthy, balanced diet.
Whatever you want to accomplish this year, remember that the path towards a better 2013 isn’t going to happen in a few weeks. Expect speed bumps and setbacks, but counter them with willpower and positive thinking. You’ll thank yourself for overcoming setbacks and accomplishing your goals instead of giving up on them all together.
Katie Henry is a senior in journalism and political science from Pella, Iowa.