After a challenging year of quarantine, remote working, social unrest, economic uncertainty, virtual church and a lot of challenges to our physical, spiritual and mental health, most of us are looking forward to 2021.
January brings a clean slate, in many respects. While the challenges of 2020 won’t immediately change at midnight on Thursday, there are reasons to be optimistic about 2021.
The new year is as good a time as any to get healthier, chase a dream, turn a hobby into a job and cross off bucket list accomplishments. The problem is, most of us set New Year’s resolutions that will fizzle out of existence in a matter of weeks. Not only did I not run the marathon last year, I didn’t even run a 5K!
Here are some tips to keep your resolutions this year, and make your 2021 look a lot different than 2020:
Set January Resolutions Instead
The thought of working out 365 times next year is awesome, but probably not very realistic. When we see a huge goal looming, it’s easy to talk ourselves out of skipping “just one day.” If you only miss one day out of 365, that’s not too bad.
So, we skip a day. Skip one day, you’ll skip the next, then the next, then …
But when you only have 31 days, it’s harder to talk yourself out of it. Keep your focus on the shorter period and build habits. After you’ve worked out every day for a few weeks, it will become harder to skip.
Set Goals That Are Steps Toward Your Bigger Goals
Breaking your goals into smaller, more achievable goals will go a long way in helping you keep them. Success begets success. You can create momentum in your goals that will help you continue your success. Hit a few of your smaller goals, add them up, then you’ve hit your larger goals.
Don’t “make an album,” just start with “write one song.” Don’t “write a book,” start by writing a chapter.
Combine the first two tips to set one goal in January that puts you closer to accomplishing the larger goal.
Better Two You Keep Than 200 You Forget
If you set too many goals, you run the risk of having so many to work on that you end of working on none of them. It’s good to have goals and resolutions, but they’re only going to have impact if you accomplish them.
Try setting one or two goals to accomplish in January, then set one or two more in February and so on. The more you accomplish, the more you can set, and this momentum will turn into a year of fantastic results.
Practice Morning Glory
Research has shown that it’s harder to make decisions in the evening when we are tired. Experts call this “decision fatigue.” We only have a certain amount of mental energy for the day. Once it’s up, it’s up.
By the end of the day, we’ve made so many decisions that the decision to “work out or sit on the couch” will be harder to make. Push your new activity to the morning and you’ll have a better chance of it sticking.
Find a Friend
Accountability is a cliché, but it’s so important. We all have those days were we don’t “feel like” doing the new resolution. It’s cold outside. I’m too busy today. I’ll get to it tomorrow. All these excuses are harder to make when someone else is participating with you.
A simple way to get accountability is to tell the world your intentions. “How’s the training for the marathon going?” is not a question you want to answer often with “not as well as my Netflix binge-watching.” Telling some people what your resolutions are will bring natural accountability and for many, a challenge to complete them.
For the competitive types, tracking your activity is a simple way to motivate you to keep going. I have writing goals that I track on a daily and weekly basis. Once I’ve been hitting my daily goal for a number of days, I don’t want to break it. I like crossing off the day and seeing the streak increase. There are a lots of great apps to track and measure your progress.