It’s officially the beginning of 2019, which means that most of us are still pretty invested in our New Year’s resolutions. After all, we generally view the first few weeks of January as a time of rebirth, change, and growth. It is, you could say, the beginning of our newest chapter.
But by the time it’s April or May, most of us have long given up on the goals we set for the year. Our plans to workout every day are out the window; we stopped drinking eight glasses of water a day by February. We’ve pretty much forgotten what our resolutions were in the first place.
But New Year’s resolutions don’t have to be fruitless. Here are some of our favorite tips and tricks to make sure you make the most of 2019.
1. Remind yourself WHY you made each specific resolution
The point of most New Year’s resolutions is to either better yourself or make your life more comfortable. Remind yourself that working out and eating better isn’t just about looking good, but feeling good — and, hopefully, living longer. Remind yourself that budgeting throughout the year isn’t just about having more money, but using that money for something that’ll make you much happier than eating out once a week. Remind yourself that spending extra time on your projects isn’t just about finishing them, it’s about improving your skills and having fun in the process. If it helps, write your reasons down and put them somewhere you can see, like on a mirror or on your desk. The more you remind yourself why you’re doing something, the more motivated you’ll be to do it.
2. Make a list of potential roadblocks
You can’t know everything that’ll come up in the future, but you can anticipate at least some potential problems. Make a list of the things you think you might struggle with and come up with possible solutions just in case they do. Store the list somewhere for safekeeping — you’ll want to go back to this in the future when you actually get to one of those roadblocks.
3. Create a system that shows your progress
It’s hard to stay focused on a goal when you feel like you can’t see yourself improving. After all, if you’re hoping to lose weight, you probably won’t see any significant changes in your body for at least a few months. Instead, find alternative ways to keep track of your progress. If you want to focus on exercising, get a Fitbit or a fitness app on your phone and track the steps you take per day. If you want to write more, keep track of how many hours your work and how many pages you write per day and log them into a calendar. If you’re trying to stop drinking, keep a count of how many days you’ve gone without alcohol. Watching yourself grow is not just exciting, it’s motivating.
4. Find healthy habits that replace the old ones
If your New Year’s resolutions have to do with kicking old habits, find something healthier to replace them with. If you’re trying to cut back on drinking alcohol, find something else to sip on instead when you have the urge to stop by the liquor store. If you’re trying to reduce your time online, try reading at night instead. Instead of opting for fast food, prepare quick, easy meals and freeze in advance so you can just pop in the oven when you’re too tired to cook at the end of the day. Change isn’t easy, but it helps when you have new things to distract yourself with.
5. Set smaller goals along the way
Instead of just saying, “I want to get from point A to point B,” figure out some of the smaller steps in between. Give yourself miniature goals each month and make sure they vary enough to keep things interesting. One giant goal might seem daunting from the outset, but a series of smaller, easier goals will make your resolutions feel much more manageable.
6. Ask your friends to hold you accountable
Find at least one friend you trust — and who you know is task-oriented — and ask them to help keep you accountable. This person should call you out if you’re about to break your promises to yourself and talk you up when you feel like giving up. If you’re someone who does better when you’re being monitored, you might even ask them to text you every now and then to check up on your progress — you’ll feel much more pressure to stick to your guns if you have to report back to someone.
7. Create your own support group
Find people who have similar resolutions — whether that be your friends, your colleagues, or strangers on the Internet — and ask them if they’d like to create something similar to a support group. Even if you don’t want to (or can’t) actively work on your goals together, it’ll give you people to talk to who understand your struggles and who will help keep you accountable. Besides, sharing your progress with others who are just as excited for you as you are is one of the most inspiring things you can do.
8. Leave room for failure (and expect it)
Look, let’s be honest: keeping resolutions is hard. We’re bound to slip up every now and then — we’re human, after all. But instead of beating yourself up over it or giving up on your resolutions altogether, be kind to yourself. If you mess up for a day (or a week), consider it a break, not a failure. Allow yourself to regress. Allow yourself to give up every now and then. But just remember that you control whether or not you step back up and continue working toward your goals; forgive yourself and move forward.