An okay plan executed today is better than a perfect plan executed tomorrow – or worse – never executed at all. We often feel the need to set big goals for the new year and we often set more than one. But both experience and research shows that we can only make a very limited number of changes at one time.
In fact, if you want to be truly successful and make your resolution stick, only make one big resolution at a time. If you try to make too many changes at once, you’ll get overwhelmed and lose the will. That’s why we see so many attempts to make sweeping changes fail. We overestimate what we can accomplish in a year and underestimate what we can accomplish in a day.
Below are four pillars to create success for your New Year’s Resolution.
Positive peer pressure is a great tool to help you stick to your goals. If you’ve ever been to the gym with a friend, you’ll know the power of peer pressure. You’ll often work harder for others, like your family, than you will for yourself. Use this powerful truth to turn your resolution into resolved.
Get bold and confident. Tell your family, friends and neighbors what your resolution is and how you’re going to get there. Rope a friend in to go along for the ride. The more people who know, care and will ask you about your progress, the more likely you are to keep making progress.
Make a plan.
Just like anything in life, if you want something you’d better have a plan to get there. If you have a clear destination then you need to have a clear way to get there. Look for the obstacles along the way – i.e. what are some setbacks, old habits or life’s curveballs that could derail your whole resolution? Create a way to navigate these obstacles. Chart out your daily activities that lead to the end goal. Small changes every day, like sleeping in your gym clothes or waking up 15 minutes earlier, can give you that edge.
Replace the old one.
If you’re looking to rid yourself of an old habit then you need to have a replacement. That habit is providing you something – energy, cure for boredom, relaxation – something or you wouldn’t keep doing it. To give that old, negative habit the boot, find an alternative and productive activity that provides similar incentives.
Smoking, for example, provides an outlet for social interaction, relaxation and a cure for boredom. Perhaps there’s a hobby you love that you can do with friends. Or perhaps there’s a project you can work on a bit at a time to later share with friends. So every time the urge arises, you replace the old habit with a new, productive one.
Track your progress.
You’ll never know how far you’ve come if you don’t mark where you started. We often forget how far we’ve come when we don’t track our progress. In fact, it can seem like we’ve made hardly any progress at all. The best way to keep your motivation high and to really understand how you’re doing is to track your progress. Whatever your goal, pick a metric, or even better, several metrics for success. If you want to lose weight, the scale shouldn’t be your only metric. You should track other fitness indicators, too, such as body mass index or resting heart rate to show you that progress is happening.
Remember, to make a resolution stick, you need to create accountability, make a plan, replace bad habits with good ones and track your progress. And a bonus tip for keeping yourself motivated — reward yourself when you hit a milestone or stick to your resolution consistently.
It’s about progress, not perfection. You won’t get it perfect every time and that’s normal and okay. The important thing is that you stick to it and don’t quit. Any inch of progress is better than no progress. Refine your plan, remain flexible but keep your goal vivid and present.