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How to Actually Keep your New Year's Resolutions

We have all heard the disheartening statistics: approximately 90% of New Year’s resolutions have been abandoned by the end of February.

Ouch. I have certainly seen this play out in my life, from my own resolutions to working in a restaurant that loses business for about two weeks at the beginning of January then goes back to its typical success.

Making changes to your life is hard, but there are ways to beat the burnout. There are people every year who accomplish their resolutions and stick to it. These are people who use the following tricks to stand strong:

Do not make a resolution if it isn’t important to you.

Starting off, don’t bother yourself with a lackluster resolution that does not matter to you personally. It is easy to get sucked into the fad of creating a bunch of massive goals as you head into a new year, but this doesn’t work for everyone.

If you have an idea of a way you would like to improve yourself, then by all means make a resolution. But if you are the type of person who thrives on making small changes when the moment is right, then do that. Remember, the whole point is to benefit yourself.

Be realistic in your expectations.

Most people are not successful when they dive headfirst into a massive goal. If you want to go vegan, dropping all meat and dairy overnight might be too jarring for you. It might be easier to start by eliminating certain foods, and move closer to your goal each month.

If your goal is to get into painting, but your schedule is incredibly busy, you might start with 10 minutes per week. You can always increase your actions with time, but start out with a realistic goal that you can achieve with a little push.

Hold yourself accountable.

This will keep you from stagnating or regressing. You can find another person to be an accountability partner and check in on you to make sure that you are following your goals. If that isn’t your cup of tea, you can hold yourself accountable by setting milestones. For example, you will go to the gym for 30 minutes once a week during January, twice a week during February, and twice a week for 45 minutes during March. Or set specific dates to have written 5,000, 10,000, and 50,000 words in your novel.

Specific, measurable accomplishments help you track your progress and keep you accountable for continuing to head in the right direction.

Be kind to yourself.

You are going to screw up. You will almost certainly eat that extra large piece of cake, or choose Netflix over reading a book, or lose your Duolingo streak. This does not mean you are going to fail.

You have lived a long time with the habits you are trying to break or without the habits you are trying to form. It is a long, difficult path to make a major change in yourself. You will occasionally have a bad day, or even a bad week. This is okay. Forgive yourself and recommit to your goals. No matter how many times you fall, you are pushing yourself in the right direction.

If your goal is to lose weight and you keep falling back into poor eating habits and your weight does not change over time, you have still made progress. The salads you ate had fresh vegetables full of vitamins and nutrients that, regardless of your weight, make your body healthier over time. Having good nutrition every-other week is way better than having poor nutrition overall!

If you are behind your goals in writing or drawing, that’s okay. The days you sit down and put in effort mean you have created more art than you ever would have if you didn’t have those good days, even if it is not as much as you planned on creating.

You deserve kindness and patience. You are trying to improve yourself, and that is admirable. Be proud of yourself, work hard, and know that no matter how long it takes, the little victories along the way are still worthy of celebration.

What is your New Year’s resolution? Post it in the comments, and encourage each other in the replies.

I am a writer, actor, translator, and social activist.

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