Some of the most popular New Year’s resolutions—from “I’m going to eat healthier” to “I’m going to exercise more”—are vague, intimidating, and downright difficult to manage without an action plan. You may feel inspired to make a change, but if you’re hoping to make your resolution last past February, the key is to prepare! Set yourself up for success with these tips.
Simply making a New Year’s resolution doesn’t magically open up a time slot in your life for such an activity. For example, if you’d like to go to the gym more, hang up a calendar or download a scheduling app and literally write or type in when you want to go. Include all your commitments on the calendar so you will not only remember your plans, but also be able to visualize your entire schedule and—most importantly—view your resolution as part of your new routine. Soon, skipping the gym won’t even be an option!
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If you’d like to start cooking healthy meals at home instead of dining out, remember to plan ahead for those meals. Make sure you have all your ingredients and tools ready so you aren’t scrambling at the last minute, which will leave you frustrated, stressed, and more likely to reach for the phone to order out. Grocery shop for the week, then portion your ingredients so they’ll be ready to go when you are—you’ll be more likely to cook if it’s convenient.
Set small goals.
“I’m going to put $25 per week in a savings account” is a lot more realistic and easier to manage than “I’m going to save more money.” If you can count your goal, and it’s specific, it’s more likely to happen.
Grab a buddy.
A friend, coworker, or family member who shares your resolution can be a great asset to sticking to it. Learn from each other, encourage each other, and even offer constructive criticism. You can check in with each other and share your successes. Some healthy competition may even fuel both you and your partner’s motivation.
Relate your choices to your goal.
Everything adds up! Skipping one day of exercise or choosing a soda instead of water may seem like small matters, but if that starts to become habit your resolution will soon get left behind. If time is an issue, make everyday choices that work toward your goal without having to pencil in an additional activity. Want more movement in your day? Park in a farther space at the office, take the stairs, and walk information over to your coworker instead of emailing. These choices take just minutes longer than the alternative.
Evaluate each month.
Check in on your progress at the end of each month. Even if you don’t do so well one month, you can make the necessary changes to help you succeed the next month. Eventually you will discover what works for you, your body, and your mind. As you work toward your goal, you will get to reap small successes along the way—giving you a sense of accomplishment, and the motivation to continue.