1. A formal expression of opinion or intention
2. The act of resolving or determining upon an action, course of action, method, procedure, etc.
3. A resolve; a decision or determination. To make a firm resolution to do something

With a brand new year ahead of us comes the energy and excitement of change and growth. We all look forward to reinventing ourselves in one way or another and we take great pride in making, and sharing, our New Year resolutions.

The excitement of facing new challenges and achieving new goals is a fantastic motivator to help you to make changes and improve yourself.

But for many of us, that enthusiasm fades rather quickly and we find ourselves falling back into our old routines and never realizing our goals. Why is that? How can we be so pumped up to do something one day then find ourselves not caring to see the end result the next? 

Take the goal of losing weight (probably the most popular thing people resolve to do in the New Year). The gym memberships are bought, we finally found the running shoe that feels best for our feet, and we have a plan to change our diet and eat more salads. Great!

Why then is it that by about the second week in February every year the gyms are not as busy, there aren’t as many of your neighbors our for their afternoon jog, and the produce section in the grocery store can remain fully stocked. Is it that we get bored with the process, or are we frustrated that we aren’t seeing progress?

It’s probably a little of both. It also might be that we expect too much of ourselves, or maybe our circle of friends and family are not as supportive as we had hoped they’d be. Maybe you were part of a group who vowed to meet at the gym on a regular basis and now you’re the only one who still keeps to that schedule (and the others are meeting for coffee before work instead of sweating it out on the treadmill like they promised). 

There’s no denying that making changes is HARD WORK. It doesn’t matter if you want to lose 10 pounds or 50 pounds – it’s hard! It doesn’t matter if you’re trying to eat more fresh vegetables or less red meat – it’s hard! It doesn’t matter if you have only one student loan to pay off or a pile of credit card bills to tackle – it’s hard!

So what can you do to make making changes easier?

One thing that I think is a huge help is to not bite off more than you can chew. Having too many goals that you are trying to work on all at the same time can be very overwhelming and can easily cause you to feel stressed out and fed up, leading to you giving up on all of them!

If you have a lot of goals you want to work on, pick the one that is going to be easiest for you to accomplish and work on that for a designated amount of time (I find that 6 weeks is a good amount of time for me to form a habit that will become a routine). Once you feel that the steps needed to make that goal a reality are now a normal part of your daily routine you can start working on your second goal (again, chose the one that you feel is easiest for you to accomplish) while maintaining your “new normal” daily routine you have established with your first goal. Once the second goal becomes part of a normal daily routine, move on to your third goal. Then your fourth. And so on. This will allow you to fully focus on one thing at a time while still knocking out your list of goals for the year. Check out our blog post “5 Ways To Motivate Yourself Daily – Part 4” for tips on how to eat an elephant.

Another road block some people face when trying to keep their New Year resolutions is that they create unrealistic goals for themselves. If you set a goal to participate in the Tour de France this year but haven’t ridden a bicycle in 15 years you’ve got a long way to go in a very short time to make this happen!

I’m not saying that you can’t some day make this a reality. I believe we can all do amazing things if we set our intentions in the right direction. You probably just can’t expect to go from “couch to Paris” in six months. Try setting smaller, monthly goals that will allow you to increase your riding mileage at a pace that will be challenging but will keep you interested and motivated to continue. This will set you up for success and could eventually lead to you riding on the Champs-Élysées one day!

One final reason so many people fail to see their New Year resolutions through to the end is that they don’t keep track of their progress. Having your successes charted out and placed where you can see them and celebrate the small victories is a huge way to stay on track and motivated to keep going. Years ago, we followed the Dave Ramsey “Baby Steps” to get out of debt and take control of our finances.

By writing down our financial goals and having all of our debts listed in the order in which we were working on them we were able to SEE the progress as we went through the program. Not only did we see the debt get smaller and smaller, we saw our savings account and our net worth grow bigger and bigger! Now that is motivation to keep on the path to success, even when it is hard and you are making some big sacrifices. A vision board is a good way to keep track of your progress. If you aren’t familiar with what a vision board is, you can go back and read our blog post “5 Ways To Motivate Yourself Daily – Part 2” to learn a little more. 

Whether you have a goal of making healthier food choices this year, or your resolution is to stop drinking orange juice right after brushing your teeth, if you take one thing at a time, make sure your goals are reachable for you, and track your progress, you’re sure to see success and will be on the path to a better life!

Happy New Year … and good luck!

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