It’s that time of year again, new year resolutions! The one where we make promises to ourselves to change our lives for the better. The Washington Post states that up to 40% of Americans make resolutions. But just how many of us actually achieve what we set out to do? In reality, less than half of us stick to what we hoped to change. Sno how do we keep our new year resolutions?
In general, the most common resolutions that we make are:
- Exercise more, or lose weight
- Quit smoking
- Save more money
- Learn something new
- Relax or meditate more
Of course, these challenges we set ourselves are the most difficult to change. This is why we often fail. So why can they be so difficult to achieve and maintain?
Why most New Year resolutions fail
We humans derive a lot of pleasure from food, socialising, watching films, drinking, shopping and some from smoking. All are associated with spending money, in one way or another. Take that ‘pleasure’ away, and we are left feeling pretty miserable. We need our endorphin fix. Who wants to feel like that?
Secondly, other obstacles in the pursuit of change can be financial. Buying a gym subscription is not always cheap and may not be affordable. Time is another. Finding the time to plan how you will tackle your resolution to make it work. To create a whole new year takes planning, resources and time.
Of the main resolutions we say each year, smoking is the only that gives an instant financial gain. Smoking can put a big burden on your pocket. Stopping will instantly give you the ability to start saving and release the pressure on your monthly finances.
As part of planning how you will achieve your new year resolutions, as part of the planning process. Write down what you spend each month on what you want to change, or what you can save each week to make the change. This will help give you a financial view of the changes your new year resolution will have on your wallet.
If you don’t have a lot of faith in yourself to begin with, you’ll probably attack your goals half-heartedly. This isn’t the best start to accomplishing or changing a life goal. However you may go all in and try to make multiple significant life changes. This can be just too much to process and track for most, one at a time is more achievable..
Meanwhile, there’s also the attitude that we are all familiar with . “you had that candy at 11 am, so now you’ve ruined the whole day’s healthy eating.” Therefore, you’ll start again tomorrow (or worse, next week!). If you fall off the horse, get back on right away.
Missing a goal can be like that, it also seems like a failure. It really isn’t So you’re a week late where you wanted to be? That doesn’t really matter, because at least you are still committed to your change. Its about keep going and not giving up.
If you give up completely in a fit of self doubt, you will never get to your goal.
What Can You Do To Achieve Your Goals?
OK, so you know what you want to achieve, but how do you ensure that you get the end result?
Plan, plan, plan … (and make sure you have specific goals)
Saving more money
Rather than just say, “I’d like to save more money this year”, think about how much you want to save and plot how you will achieve it. Vaguely ‘hoping’ to save a little more than you maybe do already won’t help you succeed. You must be realistic.
Firstly, work out what you get paid and what outgoings you have, to see what is left. Cancel any subscriptions or streaming services that you no longer use. Shop around for utilities and insurance quotes; it’s worth the effort to check you are getting the best deal.
If you buy a coffee every day, consider making one at home instead and then putting that money away. Look into particular savings challenges, such as the 52 Week Challenge, even start planning ahead for Halloween and Christmas.
Try to be specific about what you want to achieve, for example, “I would like $500 in my savings account by August 1st”. This kind of specific goal helps you work out what you will need to save monthly.
Break up big goals into smaller bite-sized tasks, if even the thought of it overwhelms you. If you wish to run a marathon, you will need to start small and build up. This relates for many other types of resolution too.
Exercise more/lose weight
Be realistic, how much weight would you like to lose? Let’s be honest, losing 10kgs in a month isn’t going to happen, so be reasonable with your goal so that you don’t feel like you have failed when the 10kg plan doesn’t come to fruition.
Plan how you think you can best achieve this. Diets are multi-million dollar industries because most of us begin one, lose weight and go straight back to what we ate before. Yet we’re still surprised when the weight goes back on, so we have to start again, or try a different one altogether, assuming the last fad didn’t work.
For that reason, find something that suits you, your lifestyle. One that you can stay consistent with for a long time, or even forever. Maybe it is counting calories, cutting down on carbohydrates, or simply stopping snacking. Embrace other coping strategies for when you have urges to slip into bad habits. Go for a walk or call a friend if temptation becomes too strong.
By the same token, beginning an exercise regime doesn’t mean you also have to spend hours at the gym, or spend a small fortune on streamlining excise routines. Walk more, take the stairs instead of the elevator, and make use of free trials.YouTube is a fantastic source for some great fitness videos for all fitness levels – fun, calm, or high-intensity. It is easy to find something that fits around you.
Learn something new
Deciding to learn something new, does not appear to be as stressful as giving something up. With this, you aim to gain something rather than take it away (such as candy and chips!). This can make it easier to achieve, but not always. .
If you have a thirst for knowledge, the possibilities of learning something new are almost endless. You can learn a little about a lot – something new every day, or learn a lot about a little. A musical instrument, art lessons, cooking at home (which can help with the healthy new you!) or a language.
As with other resolutions, aim for something that is achievable, don’t set yourself up for failure from the start. Maybe you have a friend that also fancies the Italian lessons you’d love to start; doing this together is great support for both of you.
Quit smoking New year resolution
There is no doubt that this is one of the hardest resolutions to see through to the end. Addiction, and habits in general are much harder to break. They take a lot of mental stamina with physical effects that start the first day..
Be very clear about how you want to go about this. Cold turkey? Nicotine patches or gum? Medications that help the cravings? How you break the back of this addiction can be different for each individual. Talk to others who have conquered giving up smoking, join local or social media support groups. Research different tactics to help override and ease the cravings.
Anti-tobacco campaigners ASH have even said not to give up at New Year, but to start the mental preparation instead. Look towards No Smoking Day which falls on the second Wednesday in March, which is the 10th this year, 2022.
Clive Bates, Director of ASH (in the UK) said:
“Smokers that seriously want to quit should use New Years Day to make the resolution and start the mental preparation, but only take the step of cutting out the cigarettes when they are good and ready to do it.”
“Quitting is like a siege against addiction to nicotine, and you need to build up motivation, find out what will happen, get the best tips, plan some distracting social activities, talk to your doctor about drugs that might help, and make sure family and friends are onside.”
This resolution particularly deserves the time and effort of research, in order for you to benefit the most from it. Then go on to win such a great achievement.
If you are used to rushing around all day, eating on the go, and crawling into bed only to get up for work again. Repeating the same routine, you probably need some self-care. The same applies if you are running around after children. School runs, meals to cook, homework to do, and generally doing everything for everyone else.
You don’t have to join classes, although there is that option if you can get out of the house! Relaxation can take many forms, such as breathing exercises. Short meditation podcasts or videos, even a pamper evening with a candlelit bath are all possible!
Reading can help take your mind away from the day and transport your worries away for a time. Grab books from thrift stores, exchange with friends, and apps like Kindle have thousands of free, or cheap, ebooks to read.
YouTube has a wealth of guided meditations and such, for many types of worries and stress, and even may help you have a deeper sleep.
Taking time out to create a journal can help a lot of people, just getting your thoughts and feelings on a page can provide a source of mental alleviation. Whether you prefer good old-fashioned pen and paper or a readily accessible app, this can stop those nighttime worries.
This can help particularly to track other resolutions and see just how well you are doing or assess why you may have had that ‘bad’ day and make necessary changes.
Should I Just Not Bother?
It has to be said, everyone has divided opinions on this matter from the ‘new year, fresh start’ camp to the ‘why does it have to be New year’ camp.
One way of looking at this is, if you never set a goal, how will you progress and achieve one? Alternatively, does it have to New Year to make that change? If, at any point in the year, you feel ‘ready’ to do something, just do it. You will achieve nothing by waiting until the new year and not embracing changes when you are ready to begin right now in, for example, September
The secret probably lies in making it a resolution to begin on any date that you are ready. If you have spent time doing research before New Year, and feel January 1st is the day, then great! Maybe January 21st is better for the next person, or May 7th.
Whenever you begin your change and you start to hit the small goals on the way to your ultimate goal, that is what gives you the boost you need to continue. It is not time-of-year dependent!
One thing to remember is that if you really don’t want to do it, just don’t. It is almost impossible to change something you really don’t want to change. You need a very determined reason to change something, such as giving up smoking. There has to be a significant part of you that yearns for the change, and solid reasons why you should implement the change. Just because you feel you should isn’t going to be enough of a reason to get you through. Keep chipping away until the ‘why’ becomes strong enough to act on!