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Start Planning Now to Stick With Your New Year’s Resolutions

cards with New Year's Resolutions written out on them, sitting on a table by a pine branch
vesna cvorovic/Shutterstock

Every January, you find yourself making a New Year’s Resolutions list with all the things you’re planning to change or accomplish in the upcoming year. Here’s how to start planning now to actually stick with them!

Write It Down

Whether it’s something simple like “getting more sleep by skipping the Netflix marathon every second night and drinking more water throughout the day” or more complex such as “finally finishing my Master’s thesis and losing 20 lbs,” writing it down makes the resolutions clearer. It also lets you focus and keep yourself accountable. Write it on a nice, clean piece of paper (or print it out) and keep it somewhere where you’ll be able to see it every single day. Some people even find it helpful if they place several copies around their house, their car, or any other place they frequent, as it makes them think about them more often, especially as the year progresses.

You can add checkboxes next to each item on your list so that you can place a satisfactory check once you’ve completed them or keep it plain and simple and cross them off with the same sense of satisfaction, which translates into accomplishment. Seeing those ticks and crossed out resolutions motivates you to continue in the same fashion and complete the rest of the list.

Prepare To Celebrate Small Victories

Sometimes specific resolutions are too complex to be crossed off only once they’re fully completed, so dividing them into stages makes them that much attainable and easier to grasp. On the other hand, life is pretty unpredictable, and sometimes the easiest tasks get thrown in a completely different direction (losing a few pounds to fit in that dress you bought two years ago won’t be possible if you get pregnant, and the idea of wanting to buy a house won’t make sense if your career path ends up taking you to a new country), so celebrating small victories is a crucial aspect of sticking to your New Year’s resolutions.

Preparing yourself in advance makes the pleasant or unpleasant surprises easier to handle and avoids throwing you off your game. No matter how much we want to control every aspect of our lives, it’s pretty impossible to do so, but preparing ourselves to control our reactions makes dealing with roadblocks in a much more efficient and productive way.

Create Attainable Goals

Although it’s perfectly fine to have some big goals and dreams on your list, writing down what’s attainable in the upcoming year makes the resolutions easier to stick to, work towards, and actually accomplish by the time 2021 starts knocking on your door.

Piling big, long-term goals on your resolution list without actually stopping to think if they’re even possible (buying a house without meaningful savings, getting married without even being in a relationship) invokes anxiety, sadness, and feelings of failure as the chance of actually accomplishing these 5 or 10-year plans in only one year are close to none. Having your list consist of goals that are challenging, yet possible, makes even the big ones seem closer than you think.

Motivation Comes and Goes

a group of young people practicing yoga in a studio

Preparing yourself that motivation to stick to your New Year’s resolutions will come and go is important as 365 days is a long period. There’ll come a rainy day in March or an anxious day in June when seeing that list on your bathroom mirror makes you sad and unmotivated, but knowing that it’s OK to feel that way makes sleeping it off and feeling better in the morning a much bigger possibility.

Nobody can stay motivated all the time, and there’ll come a time when a day off from the gym will turn into a week and having ice cream for dinner will happen for the most of November: that doesn’t mean your plans will fail or that you’ve undone everything you’ve been working towards since the beginning of the year. Life experience isn’t linear, but as long as you’re staying focused with your resolutions clear in your mind, it’ll be easier to get right back on track and working towards crossing those items off your list.

Goals Can and Will Change

Just because something is on your New Year’s Resolutions list doesn’t mean it has to stay there. Things change, and so can your goals. Knowing that it’s ok to delete them or let them cross over to your next year’s New Year’s list lowers the pressure of having to complete those things that are starting to seem impossible. On the other hand, adding new stuff to our list is also something we never seem to think about, as for some reason, we believe everything has to be put in motion on January 1st.

That date symbolizes a beginning of a new chapter, new opportunities, and something like a fresh start, turning over a new leaf, or a clean slate – all the possible cliché word phrases you can imagine. It’s tied to 1/1 as it marks the beginning of a new year, but the day you decide to write your resolutions down and start working towards accomplishing them can be any day of the year.

Let that sink in.

Don’t Force It

Some things take time, and there’s nothing you can say or do to change that. We all live such fast-paced lives and expect everything done overnight when the reality is: some things cannot be forced. Letting yourself understand and accept that makes you enjoy the journey and celebrate every checkpoint along the way.

New Year’s resolutions are a way to keep ourselves accountable towards achieving certain things we want, need, or believe are important on our life journey. Sometimes we set our expectations higher than we think and therefore force our way through seeing them reached. Knowing that sometimes that ends up being counterproductive allows us to let things develop at their own pace.

New Year’s resolutions are a trend most of us succumb to on January 1st. Not sticking to the majority of them also seems to be a trend to which we all succumb by December 31st, but implementing these tips will definitely help us stay on track and deal with whatever comes our way, even if it means copy-pasting the same list again next year.

Karla Tafra Karla Tafra
Karla is a certified yoga teacher, nutritionist, content creator and an overall wellness coach with over 10 years of international experience in teaching, writing, coaching, and helping others transform their lives. From Croatia to Spain and now, the US, she calls Seattle her new home where she lives and works with her husband. Read Full Bio »
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