It’s that time of year again! Celebrating the New Year, reflecting on the year that has just passed, and that all too familiar annual tradition of setting New Year’s resolutions. We’ve all been there before, setting a number of goals for ourselves that we hope to accomplish in the upcoming year. Yet, more often than not, we tend to fall short on the promises we make to ourselves and end up back at square one. I myself have been there many times. Making a list of achievements I hope to hit each year, and when December 31st comes around, I realize that I fell short on what I wanted to accomplish. As a second-year psychology major in university, I have always been interested in learning how our minds impact the way we behave. I like to implement the knowledge I acquire from school to my everyday life, and I compiled these effective techniques on how to stay on top of the resolutions we make each year.
1. Specificity is key
When we make New Year’s resolutions, we often reach for large lifestyle changes or habits that take time to achieve. We set huge expectations at the beginning of the year and very quickly feel discouraged when we don’t achieve what we have set out for ourselves. Making small and specific goals can allow for us to feel a sense of accomplishment in a much faster manner and can serve as further motivation to continue that specific act throughout the year. So instead of having resolutions like “exercise more” and “read more”, try goals such as “go for a run 3 mornings a week” and “read 15 pages of a book each day”.
2. Always plan ahead
Planning and incorporating your goals into your daily schedule is a great way to stay on track. Having cues that remind you to complete your daily goals makes you more likely to complete the task you plan out for yourself. Whether it’s writing (in print or Braille) a “To Do” list and periodically checking it throughout the day or setting reminders on your phone, having something that can serve as a reminder of things you want to get done can keep you accountable and consistent with your resolutions.
3. Treat yourself!
Rewarding oneself is a powerful form of positive reinforcement present in the process of conditioning behaviour. The idea is that a desirable reward is given once a task is completed, and that reward can serve as motivation to continue that task. More importantly, treating yourself makes you feel good and allows for a sense of satisfaction in achieving an accomplishment. Taking small breaks, having a small snack after a workout, or going out with friends after you finish your schoolwork are all examples of rewards that you can give yourself in order to keep yourself motivated. One thing to remember with treating yourself is to always practice moderation.
4. Have patience
It often takes time and dedication to quit old habits and the same goes for creating new ones. It is estimated that it takes approximately 66 days of repetition for a habit to form and stick. Using strategies, such as specific goals setting and careful planning, can allow for the consistency that is necessary for stopping and/or starting a new habit. It is important to take it one day at a time and to allow yourself to feel proud of each accomplishment you achieve.
5. Don’t give up when you slip up
It is important to know that everybody makes mistakes. It is alright if you miss a few goals that you set for yourself. However, it is important to not treat each slip up as a failure. As the great Vince Lombardi said, “It isn’t whether you get knocked down, it’s whether you get back up.” So, the next time you fall a little short on your goal, stop, acknowledge the mistake you made, and recommit to your goals.
These are all methods that I have personally implemented into my life and have seen results with. I hope that these tips can help you with achieving the New Year’s resolutions you set for yourself. Above all, may the New Year bring joy, love, peace, and happiness to everyone!
Wishing you all a Happy New Year 2021!
Written by: Ishita Bhatia