New year's resolutions have been around for ages. Some people believe that if you set a goal at the beginning of the year, it will motivate you to achieve it by the end. However, research shows that only 8% of people achieve their New Year's resolutions in any given year!
Is January 1st the best day to start?
While it may be a day that many people associate with the start of a new year, January 1st is not a date that has much personal significance for most people. It's generally considered an arbitrary choice—as in, "We're going to start doing this thing on January 1st because everyone else does." If you want your resolution to have more meaning and longevity than just another year of resolutions unfulfilled, consider picking a more meaningful date instead.
For example: if you were born on May 17th and are interested in learning how to do stand-up comedy but don't know where or how to start, try getting up at an open mic night near your house or signing up for classes at an improv or comedy theater near where you live. Yes, May 17th looks like a great date for that.
If you're interested in getting in better shape, consider signing up for a local 5K race or attending a yoga class. If you want to learn how to sew, try taking some classes at a local craft store. If you want to learn how to play an instrument but don't know where to start, ask around at music stores and online forums for recommendations about which instrument is easiest for beginners. Yes, May 17th is also a great day for all of those. Yes, it can be a great birthday gift to ask others as well.
Another significant day people neglect is TODAY! Today is a special day as it represents our present. So, if you want to start a new positive habit, consider starting Today!
If you think you will fail (and more than 80% of people do), then why bother?
If you think your resolution is going to fail, then why bother?
Instead of completely giving up on the idea. Why not set goals and follow up in such a way that you will have a higher chance of success?
Here are some ways to make sure you stick to it:
Don't be unreasonable with your goals. If you're trying to lose 50 pounds in two weeks, it's probably not going to happen. Instead, try something more manageable, like losing 10 pounds in 2 months by making small changes every day.
Set up reminders throughout the day so that when it comes time for a healthy activity or meal, you won't forget about it. For example, set an alarm on your phone that reminds you at 9 am and 5 pm every day that now would be an ideal time for a walk or some exercise. You can even use tools like Habitica or Fitocracy, which reward users with points and badges based on their progress toward achieving their goals!
Set realistic expectations so that when things don't go exactly as planned—and they won't always—you can still feel good about yourself and continue moving forward towards those goals!
Keep in mind that it is hard to maintain the discipline to work towards your goal. So, keep being kind to yourself, expect to fall on the way, but know you can get up again.
Know that results take time! If you are planning to learn a programming language, you might have to keep learning every day for 100 days to get good results! If you are aiming to get in shape, it can take just as much time to see results. So, count this time to get when setting up your goals (another reason to start today!)
Starting small can help!... a lot!
The most successful resolutions are ones that make a small change, such as going to the gym or eating healthier. If you're trying to lose weight, instead of saying, "I'm going to lose 50 pounds this year," you should set smaller goals like "I'm going to lose 1 pound a week," and then celebrate when you reach your goal.
Also important is having people around who support your goal and will help you achieve it. If no one is around to encourage you or do something with, it can be for motivation to slip away!
If a change seems too difficult at first glance, try breaking down the task into smaller parts until it feels more manageable. This may mean breaking up large projects into small steps, so they feel more achievable. For example: if someone wants to write an essay about global warming but doesn't know how they'll do it (or where), breaking down each step—researching information online about what causes global warming, finding sources from credible news organizations like the BBC; writing an outline—will make things easier!
It might also be helpful if there were some rewards built into these new habits (e.g., "After I finish cleaning my room today, I can watch my favorite TV show"). Rewards help keep us motivated because we get something out of our hard work :)
Even with all those, motivation can be tough to maintain. This is where the notion of discipline can come into play. Many people perceive motivation as doing something while enjoying doing it, while discipline is perceived as doing something whether you like it or not. Achieving your resolutions will likely involve both!
The truth is that resolutions can work if we are smart about them. It all depends on how we approach them. In reality, they are just like any other goal, if you're not motivated and don't have discipline, then chances are your resolution won't work out. Oh, you are planning got start something, don't wait for another new year! Today is probably the best day the get things going!