Blog Short #11: How to Keep Your New Year’s Resolutions in 2021

Welcome to Monday Blog Shorts – ideas to make even Monday a good day! Every Monday I share a short article with you about a strategy you can use, or new facts or info that informs you, or a new idea that inspires you . My wish is to give you something to think about in the week ahead. Let’s dig in!

It’s that time of year once again when we make resolutions and set new goals.

It’s always kind of fun to think about what we want to accomplish in the coming year, and sometimes we pull it off. But, very often we start with a bang and then the whole thing peters out around February, and sometimes before that. We have great intentions, but lose enthusiasm, fall off the horse, and never get back on again.

There’s a reason for that, and here it is:

Setting the goal is not the important step to create change. Developing and establishing a system to facilitate the goal is the key factor to success.

This system is composed of select, strategic habits that are practiced regularly and consistently. Without these, goals have no real worth.

It’s fine to set a goal, but it’s better to create the habit (or habits) necessary to get you there, and consistently practice them until they’re embedded in your daily routine, and require less energy and drive to perform.

There’s an art to this, and if you follow it, you’ll be successful. Try this:

  1. Tackle only one habit at a time. It’s great to be enthusiastic, but being realistic is better. If you work at one habit until it’s instilled in your daily routine, and is easy to perform, then and only then should you consider tackling the next one.
  2. Start small. This is the most important one. If you want to cultivate an exercise routine, don’t go whole hog at the outset. You’ll only fall off. For example, if you decide you need more cardio, walk 10 minutes every day for at least two weeks. Once that becomes easy and is scheduled into your daily routine, you can begin bumping up the time a little. If you decide you eventually want to run some of it and walk some of it, you can do that, but again add it in slowly in small time increments. The way you know you’re going too fast is when you begin to dread doing it and feel like you don’t have the time for it. You need to keep it under your resistance radar. Go slow and steady. The goal is to automate the habit without thinking.
  3. Make it fun. Whatever the habit is that you’re working on, add any elements to it that will make it more pleasurable. Using the exercise habit example, you might add your favorite music to your routine, or walk in an area that’s interesting so you enjoy what you’re viewing as you go. If you like company, get an exercise buddy. Make it something you look forward to.
  4. Schedule it. Be very specific with scheduling. Put it on your calendar or wherever it is you track your activities. You should always know well ahead of time when you’re going to perform your habit. Always schedule at least the day before, but it’s best to schedule for the whole week ahead so you don’t have to think about it, and you don’t get into the mindset of deciding whether you want to do it or not. Don’t allow that mental option. Ever.
  5. Select the best time. Make sure you schedule your new habit when it’s easiest to do, and you’re most likely to do it. If you’re whipped in the evening, don’t schedule your exercise then. Schedule it in the morning or earlier in the day when you have the energy for it. Match the new habit with the best timing for success.
  6. Avoid being a perfectionist. If you miss a day or a scheduled time, don’t stop. Get right back on the horse and do it the next time. This is one that brings many good resolutions to an end. You fall off and say to yourself, “Oh well, I’ve ruined the whole thing,” and then you don’t ever come back to it. This goes for any habit you’re working on.
  7. Reward yourself. Creating the habit and reaping the benefits of it is a reward in and of itself, but you can also give yourself little rewards along the way. These don’t have to be rewards that cost anything. It may be some extra time to yourself, an outing of some kind, or if you want to spend money, something that inspires you to continue like a new Yoga mat, or a cookbook if you’re working on your diet, or a new journal if writing is your new habit.

Start thinking about what you might like to accomplish this year, and select the first habit you want to create and instill that will move you toward your first goal. Use the guidelines I’ve given you and get the specifics of how you’re going to do it ironed out. Schedule it, and set your start date. When you feel that the habit is thoroughly a part of your routine, and it’s easy to keep going, then pick your next habit and do it all over again.

If you could create even 6 new habits over this next year, think how much better off you’d be!

I would also highly suggest reading Atomic Habits by James Clear. This book was a game changer for me. He goes into detail about how to systematize your habits and reach your goals, as well as how to maintain your progress once you get to where you want to go.

Here’s to a great New Year! We certainly need one, don’t we?!!!!

All my best,

Barbara

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