Like everyone else in America, you kicked off the New Year on fire. You made a list of resolutions and blew through January full steam ahead. You picked up extra projects at the office. You finally started studying Spanish. You started going to the gym five times a week. After a year of underachievement, you were determined to make this year different. But then, you hit your first roadblock.
You got the flu unexpectedly and it knocked you down for two weeks. You got some devastating feedback from the boss that sent your confidence levels into the toilet. You failed your first Spanish exam. Now, that spark is gone. That fire from January is nowhere to be found. Suddenly, you’re on track for another year of mediocrity.
This happens to all of us. The New Year brings a renewed sense of focus and energy. We experience a short burst of excitement that motivates us to make a long list and take on a million things without thinking about balance. We tend to forget that it isn’t realistic to fully commit to extra projects and Spanish lessons and multiple workouts all at once. If you’ve found yourself in the above scenario, in danger of abandoning your resolutions, here are 10 strategies that can help you get things back on track.
- 1. Think Small
You have the entire year ahead of you. There’s no reason to rush and cram 20 different goals into the first 30 days of the year. Instead, break things up. Decide which of your goals is the most important to you and start there. If that’s fitness, kick your gym routine into full swing. Don’t start the Spanish lessons. Don’t pick up that extra client. Just focus on incorporating your workout into your existing routine. Believe it or not, this one adjustment will be difficult enough. Get comfortable with the gym routine. Once you’ve mastered that, add in something else next month.
- 2. Set Incremental Goals
So, you’ve chosen to start the year focusing on your fitness goals. You want to lose 20 pounds. That’s a big goal – likely one you won’t achieve in a month’s time if you’re going about it the healthy way. Take that 20 pounds and split it up into smaller increments. Losing 1-2 pounds per week is recommended healthy weight loss. So, plan to get there 2-3 months from now to reach your ultimate goal, but pencil in these smaller goals along the way. Each time you achieve a small goal, it’ll reinforce your progress and keep you on track. If you just look at the big picture without any benchmarks, you’ll be easily discouraged.
- 3. Identify a Reward
Losing 20 pounds is a reward in and of itself. But for many guys, working through a big project like this is always a little sweeter knowing there’s a pot o’ gold at the end. Think of a big-ticket item that you desire. Maybe it’s a new car or that new MacBook or the latest Call of Duty. Imagine that item as the light at the end of the tunnel. You can’t put your hands on it until you’ve reached your goal. It’ll serve as motivation to keep moving in the right direction.
- 4. Forgive Yourself
You’ll have rough days. Maybe you’ll miss a short term goal or you’ll slip up and break your diet. These things happen. But when they do, it’s important to remember how hard you’ve worked up until that point. The mission isn’t over. One setback doesn’t mean it’s game over. Keep pushing. If anything, you’ll be even more motivated.
- 5. Be Grateful
During times when you screw up, it’s easy to focus on what went wrong. But recounting your mistakes repeatedly leaves you feeling depressed. Instead, try focusing on what you’re grateful for. Instead of being angry that you didn’t lose any weight this week, express gratitude for the fact that you’ve lost 10 pounds total. There’s always a silver lining.
- 6. Ask for Help
You may have determined your resolutions individually but that doesn’t mean you have to go it alone. Maybe a personal trainer or a nutritionist could help you out. Perhaps a friend could assist in holding you accountable. Your spouse or parents could even chip in to root for you until you reach the finish line. The more other people are involved, the more exciting the journey will be.
- 7. Adjust Your Goals
Your goals aren’t etched in stone. If you miss a deadline that you set for yourself, you won’t be fired from your life. It’s okay to do a reassessment. If your goals are too aggressive, there’s no shame in dialing it back. Don’t be afraid to make some adjustments and keep your objectives rooted in reality.
- 8. Set Reminders
In this age of interconnectivity and technological advancement, there are so many ways to remind yourself to do things. Your smartphone already comes equipped with a Reminder system. Additionally, there are incredible apps like Wunderlist that help set reminders for tasks and projects. You can even invite collaborators to take part in the reminders. If you’re worried about getting off task, enlist your smartphone to help you.
- 9. Stick to Your Plan
Once you have a plan, it’ll only work if you stick to it. When it comes to categories like fitness and nutrition, there will always be temptation. That extra pack of cookies. The extra night out with three more beers. The binge-watching session instead of the gym. Your results depend on your dedication. If you don’t stick to the plan, you can’t expect to see any progress.
- 10. Take Care of Yourself
Regardless of your resolutions, the journey will be difficult if you don’t care for yourself. That means getting a full night of sleep each night. That means drinking water. That means meditating or journaling to clear your mind. Your goal could be financial, physical or even emotional. But if you neglect yourself to achieve your goal, you may never get there.
Resolutions are exciting to make but we often underestimate the level of work needed to stick to them. If you take a mindful approach to goal-setting and monitoring your progress, you’ll have no problem blowing away your targets.