Yes, we know, it’s that time of year again. The time of year when we feel like we need to reinvent ourselves. However, we often find ourselves posing unrealistic goals and end up setting ourselves up for failure. This year, avoid vowing to go to the gym every day or promising to read 150 books. Instead, here are 6 easy ways to make sure you keep your resolutions realistic and successfully stick to for good. Small steps, big impact.
1. START SMALL
It’s easy to say you want to start working out/become vegan/sleep 8 hours a day/lead a zero waste lifestyle/volunteer at the local shelter/overthrow the government/learn a new language/save more money/quit smoking/run a marathon/stop buying so much takeaway. But it’s easy to lose motivation and give up. Instead, pick one or a few realistic yet meaningful goals. Make them something concrete so you know exactly what change you’re planning to make. It's important that you establish small, tangible steps that will lead you towards a big change.
So maybe your New Year’s resolution is to become a vegan. If that’s the case, start your journey one day at a time. Why not give Veganuary a try and see how you get on? Here are 5 quick & easy recipes to get you started. Or, if one day a week is more realistic, the legendary Sir Paul McCartney encourages you try meat free Mondays.
While it's important you give yourself the best shot at success with a doable goal, make sure you don’t set ones that are too easy. Otherwise, you won’t challenge yourself and it'll just be defeating the purpose.
2. PLAN FOR SUCCESS
Great, you’ve chosen the thing you most want to change or achieve. To ensure your chance of success is as high as possible, you need a solid plan. The internet is a great source of information. Whether it’s quitting smoking or taking up yoga, there are tons of resources out there to help you out (we even once wrote a blog on how you can start running to work). Youtube and podcasts can also be super handy to help you along your resolution.
It's also handy to pop any activities in your calendar with reminders, and plot out realistically when you are going to action your new changes.
3. PROGRESS NOT PERFECTION
With any plan, mistakes will happen. If you prepare yourself both physically and mentally for them so you’ll be ready for them when they come. And if you do end up missing a day of exercise or caving in to that bacon sandwich, don’t hate yourself for it. And most definitely don’t punish yourself. Instead, take a deep breath and accept that you made a mistake. Learn from them and move on.
Sometimes, relapsing can be triggered by external factors. For example, when our Ling was trying to reduce her meat consumption, she realised that she only ate meat when dining out and there was a lack of options. So she made sure next time she went out, she prepared by researching places beforehand. By identifying the triggers that caused her set back, she was able to learn from them. She also realised that having a good support system helped. By surrounding yourself with people who are supportive and care about your progress, it can make the hard times easier.
4. KNOW YOUR REASONS
Whatever your resolution is, it might be easier to help you achieve it if you actually understand the reasons behind them. Ask yourself if a) the resolution you have set really matters to you and b) are you making it for the right reasons?
New York Times bestselling author and happiness guru Gretchen Rubin developed “The Four Tendencies”, a personality framework that divides humans into one of four ‘behavioural tendencies’. It aims to explain the reasons behind why we do what we do, based on how we respond to expectations. So if you ever wondered why your best friend never misses a pilates class yet you can’t seem to find time, this might explain it. You can take the quiz here and use the results to help you when implementing new goals as you’ll be able to help create situations in which you’ll be more likely to thrive.
5. ALL IN GOOD TIME
Even though it’s called a New Year’s Resolution, you don’t actually have to start on New Year’s Day or even in January. For the change to really stick, pick a day that suits you and where you’re surrounded by positivity. Not a day (or month) where tradition and mainstream media tell you to. Wait until your whole mind and body and 100% ready to take on the challenge.
6. JUST GO FOR IT
None of this matters if you don’t just go for it. You can read all the books and tell yourself you're ready to change. But if you don’t start, then nothing will happen. Make a firm commitment to your goal by writing them down. It could be your journal, a piece of paper, on your phone or a blog. We often find telling a friend helps too, then you really feel like you need to commit.
When you need encouragement, look at it to remind yourself why you’re doing it. Words of encouragement can be a wonderful source of positive reinforcement. They don’t have to be an Oscar-winning movie script. They can just be a simple yet straightforward message. As Nike said...
Remember: small steps lead to big changes. Everyone at Peppersmith HQ is cheering you on.
Share with us in the comments your New Year’s Resolution.