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4 min|Dr. Jam Caleda

Mastering New Years' Resolutions: 11 Proven Strategies for Success

Wellness

Seneca, a renowned Roman Philosopher from the first century AD, once wisely said:

"It's not because things are difficult that we dare not venture. It's because we dare not venture that they are difficult."
As many of us can relate, sticking to our set goals or New Year's resolutions can be quite a challenge. The start of a new year provides an excellent opportunity to embark on a journey of self-improvement, but maintaining the motivation and discipline required is often easier said than done. When the clock strikes 12:01 AM on January 1st, there's a palpable sense of renewal, and it's the perfect moment to set fresh goals. In this article, we'll explore eleven practical strategies that can help you stay committed to your New Year's resolutions.

1. Visualizing Your Goal

Take a moment to see yourself in a position of what it would look like when you are surfing a barrel in Indonesia, or spending time with your family, or dripping sweat at the squat rack after a heavy workout, or enjoying a healthy meal you made with friends or family. These visual cues help stimulate and reinforce your idea of why you set the goal in the first place and can be that deciding push between staying in bed or pursuing your dream.

2. Make actionable goals

Plan on a timeline and set guidelines to aim for, whether they are big or small. For example, instead of saying, “get better sleep”, you can be more clear by saying, “I’ll go to bed at 10:28p on Sunday through Thursday.”

3. Make things routine

Research suggests that the brain has a limited capacity for patience and self-control (1). Willpower is an exhaustible daily resource and it’s depletion, can veer you off track when it comes to achieving your goals. It’s important to reduce the chances of slip-ups, so by planning your goals as actionable routines, you can essentially reduce decision-fatigue. It takes your mind out of it and allows your body to automatically succeed.

4. Make your goals small and realistic

Catherine Roscoe Barr, a good friend and colleague (The Life Delicious), told me, “to take the all or nothing mentality out of goal setting.” This has revolutionized my success rate by de-overwhelming our targets.

5. Make your objectives non-negotiable

By positively reinforcing the idea that you cannot sway on something you give yourself clear boundaries in what you can and cannot do. This will in-turn make the decisions you make about how to achieve your goals easier, and reduce decision fatigue.

6. Remember why you are doing it

For me, it helps to write down my goals, either in a journal or in a place where I can see, as a reminder as to why I set it in the first place. By reinforcing the big picture, you align a sustainable intention.

7. Inform others or do it with a partner

This is key because it establishes accountability. It is another reinforcement in the scaffolding to keep you on target. Also, by being supportive of another person you naturally bolster your own ability to stay on track.

8. Find solutions to normal excuses

Write down counter plans for the excuses that you tell yourself. For example, instead of telling myself I can’t walk to work because it’s raining, I’ll buy a pair of waterproof boots and a sturdy rain jacket to make that walk doable.

9. Celebrate your successes

This may be the most important but overlooked step to remaining focused. It is exhausting and can be a cause of anxiety to always be looking ahead, so it is imperative to look back on what you have achieved. Journaling or snapping pictures is a helpful and practical tool to recall past experiences and can be a grateful experience during the viscous times of the journey. In my experience, positive reinforcement is more sustainable.

10. Give yourself a cheat day

This just makes sense.

11. Enjoy your goals

Finding the best in the simple acts of why we do what we do will add that essential high quality to your existence. Be who you are, because life is too short to be doing things that we don’t like.

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