New Years’ resolutions are a fun cultural staple, and self-care is wonderful, but let’s be real here…  Every January gyms across the country fill up with hopeful people putting in the hard work to improve their health.  However, we all know that this huge increase of traffic slows down by February. How many of your resolutions have you kept up with after less than a month into the year?

It’s okay, changing your lifestyle is hard! We are creatures of habit and we love repetition, so changing our daily schedule is hard and even scary sometimes! But that doesn’t mean it’s impossible to work towards caring for yourself, so here are some tips!

 

1.Quantify your goals

If your goals are the typical broad stroke ideals of what you want to accomplish you’ll probably find yourself starting out strong, but as time goes on you may end up losing the original sense of commitment you felt when you started out.

I may start out my year saying that I want to read more often, then every day I’ll have some time where I think “Hmm… I think now would be a good time to work towards that!” and I read for a while.  Eventually days pile up where I haven’t read and I care less and less about my goal, and then eventually I either give it up and go back to business as usual, or I forget about it.

It’s nice to say “I want to get better at this and that!” to ourselves, but that doesn’t really give us anything meaningful to chew on.  Saying that you want to read more often doesn’t tell you how to do it. What you need is a plan to achieve your goals, something that you can write down in a planner with numbers attached to it.  Break your goal down to what individual actions you can take to achieve it and then put those on a checklist that you can check back to every day.

Now make these quantified actions your goal!  That way your goal will be built in such a way that simply saying it out loud also acts as reciting instructions on how to achieve it.  For example:If my goal is to read more often, I would turn my goal into “I want to read for at least an hour every morning before I start my day!”

 

2.Find a way to integrate it into your daily schedule. Don’t stay at a milestone!

This next tip is a natural extension of the previous one; Find some way of implementing these quantified actions into your daily life.  After all, you’re not gonna see gains by lifting a BIG weight once.  Any meaningful changes you want to make have to be the kinds that you can do every day, the kinds that leave you changed.  Like most things in life there won’t be a moment where you can say “Yes! I’ve done it! I read more often!”  The real changes only happen when our day to day life changes, even if only slightly.

This does not mean that milestones don’t matter!  They absolutely do! But we have to be prepared for the moment we reach those milestones, because if all we wanted to do was reach a milestone we aren’t going to fundamentally change anything at all. Don’t stay at the milestone! Keep moving along the path!

 

3.Keep documentation on your goals

If you’re like me, then you’ll know that one of the hardest parts about keeping to your resolution is remembering to stick to it.  So make sure that you’re writing things down!  At the very least keep a checklist on a daily planner of some sort with whatever steps you’re taking to achieve your goal on it!  You could even set a reminder on your phone’s calendar every day.

 

And finally the most important step…

 

4.Relax!

We all make mistakes, and we all lose conviction for goals that we want to achieve!  We all miss deadlines, forget to do a chore or two, or whatever else.  You might go a whole month without attending to your goals, but that’s okay! To mess up is to be human.  Who cares if you haven’t gone to the gym in a couple weeks?  Who cares how committed we look? You can pick your goals back up whenever you need!

The point isn’t that you can drop your goals whenever it’s convenient, but rather that you aren’t beating yourself up every time you mess up, because changing your lifestyle doesn’t happen in a day. You will probably end up having days where you accidentally skip out on your steps, and while it’s not the best thing ever, it certainly doesn’t give you grounds to lock up and get down on yourself.  Constantly hammering in negativity is certainly not gonna make you want to keep on going. If you are out on a walk and you trip, do you just lay there and be done?

So relax! Enjoy the changes you’re working towards. Even if you don’t accomplish them by the end of the year, that’s ok!  You have the rest of your life to do that, so just remember to enjoy the rest of the new year, may it be a good one!