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5 Tips for Sticking to Your New Year’s Resolution

The concept of having a New Year’s resolution has always been interesting to me. Perhaps it’s just the timing, but often, the resolutions or goals we choose can seem like they are set to balance out the fun we had over the Christmas season. I would argue this is why we see the influx of newcomers in the gym or new diet fads going crazy on the TV throughout January with it dying back down by February. But what about setting a New Year’s resolution that you are actually motivated and determined to achieve? Not one you select, stick to for a few weeks and then drop. And, more importantly, how do you figure out what your resolution for the year should be? For starters, you should try not to set the same goal each year (I’m guilty of this), but rather switch it up, formulate a detailed plan, and remember the age-old saying “slow and steady wins the race.” Besides these points, you could also have someone keep you accountable to your goal while also ultimately remembering that growth takes time. So, today, let’s dive deeper into 5 tips for sticking to your New Year’s resolution so that you may fire your old self to make way for your new, best self.  

1. Try New Goals Each Year 

First and foremost, when trying to stick to your New Year’s resolution, you don’t want to pick the same goal that you’ve already set in previous years. For one, if you’ve already set it in a previous year and quit before the resolution could come to fruition, what will be different this time around? Or, on the other hand, if you have already accomplished this goal, then it is no longer something you need to devote as much time and energy to for your New Year’s resolution. So, if you’re thinking of setting the same goal as last year, I would recommend trying new goals each year instead. Think more deeply about what’s important for you and your journey in the upcoming year. Maybe even write down a list of a few things that come to your mind as you deliberate on the topic. However, when it comes time to set your New Year’s resolution, you will only want to pick one. The reason for this is so that you can focus your intention, motivation, and determination on this one single goal, and you will be more likely to accomplish it. Keep in mind that setting a New Year’s resolution is all about growth, which is why your new goal should be challenging yet realistic to achieve throughout the upcoming year. By deliberately choosing a new goal for your resolution, you are taking the first step in molding yourself into the best version of yourself and ultimately living your best life. 

2. Make a Plan 

Once you have decided on what your New Year’s resolution should be, that’s it, right? Well, not quite. Now, you will want to make a plan to actually carry out your goal throughout the year. No matter your resolution, you will want to be specific and realistic with the plan you set. For example, if I resolve to lose some weight and tone up, instead of just setting that as the goal and leaving it at that, I need to create actionable ways to complete my task. In other words, don’t write down “get fit,” write down specific actions to get you there, such as “increase my water intake, move my body three times per week, and go for daily walks.” The more specific and mindful you can be when making your plan, the more intention you place in the resolution and the likelihood of a positive outcome increases. When creating your plan, it could be as simple as taking a blank sheet of paper and mapping out your ideas, or it could be as complex as taking your 2022 calendar and writing your actionable goals down throughout the days, weeks, and months as a reminder. Personally, I find that my New Year’s resolution sticks in the forefront of my mind very well, so I don’t need to re-write it several times in my scheduler. Rather, I write my New Year’s resolution (along with any other goals I might have for the year) at the start of my new journal I get each year and review it as needed. Once you have created a plan with actionable steps to complete your goal, you can start accomplishing those steps one at a time so you may fire your old self to make way for your new, best self and truly love the life you live. 

3. Start Small 

I understand that when you create a long-term plan it can sometimes feel overwhelming to get to the end goal, especially if you’re a chronic over thinker or prone to anxiety like me. But, remember that the journey of a lifetime starts with one step in the right direction. So, just start small. Over time, following through with the actionable strategies you identified previously will help you achieve your end goal. Interestingly, right before I sat down to write this article, I came across an anecdote on the internet that is the perfect example of starting small, and I will briefly explain it here. It’s from a book called The Boy, The Mole, The Fox and The Horse. Basically, at one point, the boy and the horse go into the forest, trying to cut their way across the dense foliage to get to their destination. The boy says to the horse (yes, it’s a talking horse, just stay with me), “I can’t see a way through – we’ll never make it!” And the horse replies, “can you see your next step?” The boy says yes, and the horse says, “then just take that.” This resonated with me because the sentiment is that instead of worrying about the end game and how long of a journey it is, all you need to worry about is the next step you take. With each step you take, you’ll get closer to your ultimate goal, and by focusing on one step at a time, you can avoid feeling overwhelmed or defeated by your resolution. Another story with a similar sentiment that we are all familiar with is The Tortoise and The Hare, where the famous line “slow and steady wins the race” is now used in all contexts. This story reminds you that even on the days you feel behind or perhaps slower than others, just to keep moving forward towards your goal, one step at a time, and you will eventually achieve your dreams. So, next time you are beginning to feel overwhelmed about your New Year’s resolution or are thinking of quitting, think about The Horse or The Tortoise and remind yourself that molding yourself into your best version takes time, effort, and intention but is critical so that you can live your best life. 

4. Ask For Support 

So now that you’ve identified your resolution, meticulously planned out how to accomplish it, and started to take small steps in the right direction, it should be smooth sailing, right? Well, unfortunately, that’s why we set resolutions and goals in the first place because it’s something we aren’t doing that we would like to integrate into our daily lives – this is where the challenge comes in. So, one strategy you can implement to keep yourself accountable to your new goal is by asking for support from a friend or loved one. An easy example would be getting yourself a workout buddy to make sure that you actually stick to moving your body three times a week as you’ve promised yourself. Or, maybe your goal is to work on your mental health in the New Year, in which case you might set a weekly or bi-weekly meeting with your therapist to work towards that. No matter what your goal is, oftentimes, it can be motivating and helpful to ask for support and have someone keep you accountable. Especially on the days when you feel like falling back into old habits, having a robust network of support can help you stay on the right track (back to the one step at a time thing). If you aren’t comfortable reaching out to too many people about your goal, try starting with one person you trust, OR if you really aren’t ok with sharing, I would recommend turning to your journal. Your journal is your own personal space to share your emotions, concerns, goals, heartaches – you name it. While this isn’t directly another person, it can help you push through your doubts and step towards your goals. Ultimately, never be afraid to reach out and ask for support; your loved ones are there to help you and keep you accountable as you begin to mold yourself into your best version of yourself and love the life you live.

5. Remember That Growth Takes Time 

As humans living in an extremely fast-paced world, we always want everything ASAP. Unfortunately, we must remember that growth takes time, and to reach all your goals, you will need to put in the work, and it won’t happen overnight. Think about a snake shedding its skin. It doesn’t shed its skin every day – it sheds its skin when it has grown out of it, and it is time to become a new, better version of itself (sound familiar?). The shedding of your skin to become your new, best self takes not only time but an intentional effort on your part before you will become your ideal self. Keep in mind too that many obstacles and roadblocks will await you on your journey and that you will need to be flexible and determined enough to get around them to accomplish your goals. Another great example from Mother Nature on how growth takes time is the transformation of a caterpillar to a butterfly. Although the caterpillar may not be the most beautiful thing, it knows that its journey will lead it to a better place and therefore, its life revolves around creating that future for itself. So, if you’re stressed about where you’re at in relation to your goal, remember that it takes time to create the cocoon that will turn you into a beautiful butterfly so that you can fly away. The reason that growth is one of the most challenging things is because it is one of the most rewarding things – to look back on how far you’ve come and be proud of yourself, that’s why we do it. So, next time you are worried, remember that growth doesn’t come overnight on the journey to firing your old self to make way for your new, best self. 

Final Thoughts 

The start of the New Year often brings along with it a sense of renewal, hope, and growth. I know I criticized New Year’s resolutions for being a way to balance out the fun had throughout the holiday season, but for many (myself included), the New Year can truly motivate you to become your new, best self in all aspects. For example, I am one of those newcomers in the gym this January, but thanks to only setting one goal and my strategic planning and “start small” mentality, I know I am set up for success in the coming year. Plus, if I have any days where I feel stressed or overwhelmed, I have a strong network of loved ones I can reach out to for support and guidance. I think the most challenging thing for me personally is to understand that growth takes time. I know I talk about being patient like a butterfly, but darn it, sometimes we just want our goals to be within reach immediately. Unfortunately, this is not how it works, and I have to remind myself each day that “slow and steady wins the race,” or as The Horse taught us, just take one step in the right direction at a time. Ultimately, integrating these 5 tips for sticking to your New Year’s resolution is critical so that you may fire your old self to make way for your new, best self while remembering Life’s Short, Love the Life You Live!  

Dani VanDusen

Dani VanDusen is a freelance writer and editor located in St. Albert, Alberta, Canada. She holds a BA in English from the University of Alberta where she graduated with distinction, and has been freelancing since the middle of the pandemic. An avid mental health enthusiast, rollerblade extraordinaire, dog mama, and pizza lover, she is a self-proclaimed ‘weirdo’ and says that this helps her be relatable and open in her writing. Dani has been a writer for the Fire Yourself movement since August 2021 and is an integral part of our content team.
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