Towards the end of 2018 and going into the year 2019, I was quite exhausted about some things in my life and desired change. Now, new year’s resolutions and desiring change are not new to me but this time, I tried new strategies and I’ll be sharing the tips that worked, that are still working and a major lapse.
First, I kept things super simple and set just 3 goals:
- Lose Weight (Achieved, still a work in progress)
- Save money (Achieved)
- Write a blog post at least once every month (this I failed woefully at and I’ll tell you why)
It’s that time of the year again and many of us are getting ready for the new year, raising the ghosts of New Year’s Resolutions past. As usual, you’re planning your last binges, swearing this Christmas is going to be your last wasteful spending season, declaring the end of smoking, thinking of finally joining the gym and losing the weight that has steadily increased with each passing year, planning to increase productivity and turn your life around for good. You get the idea.
A study shows 77% of people who made New Year’s Resolutions stick to it for just one week. One week! And that’s it, you’re back where you started, to things as they were and same old familiarity with bad habits. You swore to cut your bread and sugar intake but you’ve been eating more bread than usual since you set this goal. The fragrant and delicious bread you just bought has more lasting power than you since it can last several days before it goes stale.
The real challenge is not in setting goals and making resolutions. The real challenge lies in deciding if you are willing to make the sacrifices needed to achieve your goals.
It’s economics 101, “Human wants are unlimited”. We are human. We want. Us humans always want things but the difference between wanting and achieving lies in the actions (or inactions) we take.
You have to be deliberate and intentional about your new year’s resolutions and goals. This is the major secret behind succeeding at goals.
It’s cool these days to make jokes about new year’s resolutions and how they get abandoned a few hours, days or weeks into the new year. However, I have 5 simple tips that worked for me and if implemented, should work for you and make the coming year one of achievement. The beginning of a new year and decade packed with successful happenings.
New Year’s Resolutions Success Tips
The infographic at the beginning of this post highlights the steps required, I breakdown the tips below:
1. Set the new year’s resolutions
Duh. Yeah, I know this sounds like I’m stating the obvious but this is a very important step. You need to decide what it is you want exactly, no vagueness, no ambiguity. Do you say you want to save more, how much? Are you trying to go to the gym more frequently, how many days a week? You want to lose weight, how many kgs? You get the point.
There’s a beautiful acronym that works perfectly for this, it’s SMART goals. This means:
- S: Specific. Your goals need to be specific. It’s not enough to say you want to save money. Saving more could mean saving $1 extra or saving $10,000. This kind of vagueness is a recipe for disaster. So it’s best to set a specific amount and say something like “I want to save $10000 by December 2020”.
- M: Measurable. This means you should be able to see and record your progress. Continuing with our money-saving example, let’s say you have a savings account mainly for this goal and you decide to set aside $192 weekly towards your goal. The ability to check your savings account balance at any time gives you a measure of how well you’re doing and you can make adjustments where necessary.
- A: Attainable. Is your goal attainable? This means it has to be a goal you can achieve. Still using our $10,000 example, setting an amount should depend on your current income, not based on winning the lottery or getting a promotion. It might be a stretch but it shouldn’t be ridiculous. If you want to save $10,000 in a year, then it’s only reasonable that you at least expect the $10,000 in some real way. It might mean reducing the number of times you eat out, take trips, buy clothes or other things but the money does have to come in.
- R: Relevant: Your goal should be relevant to you. Let’s say you already have good savings habit and a couple of investments, does it make sense to set a goal of saving another $10,000 or are you just doing it because your boss or best friend has the same goal? If goals are not relevant to you, it’s easy to give up just because you’re spreading yourself too thin or the goal is irrelevant to your situation.
- T: Time-Bound: Your goal needs to be tied to a time-frame and deadline. So you need to decide how long it would take you to save $10,000 and then fix dates for periodic review and achievement.
2. Your new year’s resolutions Start Now
There’s no magic to January 1. It’s just another day, the sun will rise, the sun will set. If you’re like me, you have set many new year resolutions for many years and the only constant is you have failed at achieving those resolutions. This makes one thing clear, there’s no fairy godmother waving wands and granting wishes on January 1st, what you put in is what you get out.
So why don’t you try something different this time? If you start working on your new year’s resolutions right away, you won’t tie the resolutions to just a date, they become bigger than the date and take on a life of their own as you work at it. As they say, the early bird catches the worm, so start now.
Do you want to lose weight? Awesome, start with step one now and set your SMART goals. Then start taking the steps you have outlined towards achieving your weight loss goals.
3. Download a habit/goal app
We are smack amid technology, embrace it! Habit apps help you measure success and stay motivated when you’re on a streak. When you do fail, you can easily see where you went wrong and make adjustments. There are so many apps out there, I use HabitBull. Look in your app store and there’ll be several you can choose from. Here’s a post on goal apps.
Having a goal app and using it helps me reinforce the habits and behaviours I want to develop. I make a conscious effort every day to open the app and track my success or failure for the day. This way, I can see the trends of how I did for a certain week, reinforce the good habits and improve the bad habits that led to failure.
You can even take things further and reward yourself when you achieve a full month of recording success. Celebrate your wins and don’t let your losses get you down.
4. Find your support group
Stay accountable by joining forces with people of similar interests. This does not have to be a physical group, there are several places online where you can meet people on the same journey as you. Facebook Groups, Reddit, and online forums are examples. You can share your successes, struggles and get tips and support from people going through similar life changes. The importance of support groups cannot be overemphasized.
So many times, I have messed up on my weight loss goals but checking in with my support groups, gives me the burst of energy I need to go on. They are there to cheer you on and it helps tremendously to see people achieve things before your very eyes. You get to see the goals of others come to life and get encouragement from there.
5. Trust the process/Do not give up
In my humble opinion, this is the most important part. Even if you fail at the first 4 tips, never giving up means you can retrace your steps. Fix things and get back on the grind. If there’s one thing I can guarantee, it’s that most people will mess up a part of their set goals. It’s not because you lack willpower or you’re a failure, it’s simply because you’re human.
What sets you apart from the rest is your ability to treat failure as a learning tool. Take lessons from your failure and try, try again. Never give up!
If you’ve done steps 1-4 right then the process you set up should already be optimized for success so learn to trust the process. Review your steps if necessary and get back on the proverbial wagon.
Earlier in the post, I mentioned my failure to stick to my goal of writing more. The reason I failed at it is that it was just a want, I did not set it as a SMART goal like I did for my other two goals and the results of that are clear if you view my post history.
If Procrastination had a kingdom, I’d be the queen or at least the hand of the queen. In fact, I bought a book – Eat That Frog by Brian Tracy in 2008 and till this very moment, I haven’t read it. For someone who reads everything including manuals and pamphlets, that’s saying something.
But by practising the tips above, I have experienced increased levels of achievement and fulfilment. I don’t pretend to have things all figured out but there’s progress with every step taken towards achievement.
We all want things but if those things are worth having, then there would be a price to pay for their attainment. The question is, can you pay the price? Are you willing to make the required sacrifice? The ability to pay the price is what moves your goals from being conceptualized to being actualized.
After all is said and done…
A wise man once said “We must all suffer from one of two pains: the pain of discipline or the pain of regret. The difference is discipline weighs ounces while regret weighs tons.” – Jim Rohn.
Being disciplined is not an easy task, most of us struggle with it, but the results it yields are delicious. You can start out being motivated but discipline and focus are two things that should be left after the thrill of motivation has fizzled away. Whatever actions (or inactions) we take today, we’ll get the results tomorrow. Tomorrow can be days, weeks, months or years aways but the results are definitely coming. So choose your results wisely, today. Get started on your new year’s resolutions and cheers to your success!
p.s If you’re yet to get a gift for your partner, there are tips here that can help.