It’s that time again. The year is officially coming to a close. We can now forget all of our past mistakes and horrific life choices of 2014 and look ahead to a new beginning. “2015 will be different,” you assure yourself on New Year’s Eve. “I’ll lose that 40 pounds. I’ll quit smoking cigarettes. I’ll stop calling my ex every time I have one too many cocktails.” But resolutions like these always set you up for disaster. Is there one person out there who can seriously tell me that they followed through with each resolution they made for the year 2014? Once that ball drops in Times Square, it doesn’t mean you suddenly become a new you. A new year does not magically equip you with willpower, or motivation, or an intolerance of fatty foods. This year, be realistic with your annual expectations. Be reasonable so you can actually accomplish something.
Everyone always writes “Lose Weight” on their list of resolutions because we all think we’re fat even if we’re not and there’s always a few poundage we wish we could lose, especially after the holidays. Even though summer is a distant memory right now, you’re suddenly very aware of that excess flesh on your face and hips from too many Christmas cookies and dinner rolls. When adding this goal for 2015, start small so you can actually make it there. Aim to lose five pounds, or ten, so that when you really do, you’ll be proud to have already made a positive change in the new year and it will motivate you to continue working hard. What can help? Buy yourself a calendar for the new year. Draw a little box on each day of the month, and put an X in the box every day that you work out. Those unmarked days will stare at you well after the month of January so you’ll never have a chance to forget about your goal. You will actually see the progress your making, rather than pouting in April because you’ve lost no weight so you’ll have to try again come 2016.
Another common resolution for people is to become healthier in the new year. I don’t know about you, but my diet in 2014 included a lot of bar nachos, frozen pizza, and cans of Diet Coke. If I put “Eat Healthy!!!” on my resolution list, I would eat salad for three days straight then give up and forget about it. Once again, be realistic! Your eating habits and your metabolism and your unhealthy addiction to Cheetos won’t change when the clock strikes midnight. Instead of such a general goal, narrow it to tasks more specific and doable. On my list? “Drink eight bottles of water a day. Don’t snack after 8pm during the week,” etc. If you work towards smaller goals that aren’t intimidating, you’re more likely to follow through, and minor setbacks won’t feel as such big failures. Knowing you only had four bottles of water one day rather than eight feels less of a failure than if you still smoke three packs of cigs a day when you aimed to quit completely in 2015. If the goal is too big, it will feel like a lost cause and will be easier to give up on.
Also on my list: “Get a job.” It sounds like a daunting task to accomplish (because it has been). But I minimized it and made it feel less impossible. “Apply to 5 jobs a week.”
That way, I won’t feel so worthless if I don’t have a job in a few months, because at least I’m staying consistent and proactive and trying as hard as I intended to.
What also helps you stay on task with your annual goals? Calendar messages to yourself. It’s the Past You reminding the Future You to stay focused.
How’s that job hunt going? I’ll write on the top of April. It’ll remind you of the goals that you set months ago for yourself, because let’s face it, everyone forgets their resolutions come March, even February.
Did you save any money yet? The words will loom on top of July. Did you lose any weight? On top of September. “Oh yeah,” you’ll think as you drop your half-eaten donut into the trash (JK who would do that). For the year 2015, just set goals for yourself that aren’t going to scare you into giving up before you even begin. Once you make it to a small goal you had set for yourself, keep progressing. Make 2015 the year you actually made positive change, rather than saying you will.