It’s a new year, which means it’s time to embrace your personal development. But how? You say it every year…January 1st rolls around and you swear that this will be the year you will get in shape. This is the year you will focus on yourself, you’ll achieve your goals, you’ll clean your house, you’ll actually tackle your to-do list and you’ll become a better version of who you were in 2015. But then life gets in the way and suddenly months pass and you never really accomplished any of those resolutions you were so focused on at the turn of the New Year. Not this time. This will actually be the year that you get it right; all you need is a little dedication, some expert advice and some smart personal development techniques to help you get there.
First of all, let’s be clear about what a New Year’s Resolution should look like. According to psychologist Lynn Bufka, PhD, it shouldn’t not be a complete overhaul of your life and your personality. “Setting small, attainable goals throughout the year, instead of a singular, overwhelming goal on January 1 can help you reach whatever it is you strive for…remember, it is not the extent of the change that matters, but rather the act of recognizing that lifestyle change is important and working toward it, one step at a time.” Author and yoga expert Kino McGregor agrees, and explains, “I like to think of New Year’s resolutions more like intentions that you send out to the universe rather than a to-do list that you assign to yourself.” It’s not about being a different person and it’s not about making a grand gesture of change; resolutions should represent who you hope to be and how you can make small tweaks every day to make it happen.
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So how do you set yourself up for success, rather than create a recipe for failure when it comes to your resolutions? Start by thinking small. Don’t try to completely change your life and your behaviors in one swoop. Sure, trying to fit into your skinny jeans from college is a nice idea and a great goal, but is it realistic? Probably not. Instead, start small by saying that you’ll get healthy, eat cleaner and increase your regular exercise routine. Once you do that, you can evaluate your success and up the ante to get fit. Start with baby steps, so you have the opportunity to grow into your goals as you accomplish milestones along the way. The motivation from succeeding will only help your rate of success.
Remember that you don’t have to do it alone when it comes to setting (and tackling) goals. Grab a partner in crime and work together to make your resolutions a reality. You can lean on each other for support, keep one another motivated, laugh at your missteps and serve as a reminder that you’re not on your own. And if you don’t have a friend that you feel you can depend on to keep you working towards your ultimate goal, then try writing down your resolutions so that you have some paperwork to help hold you accountable when you’re tempted to quit. Research shows that writing down your goals works. According to a study conducted by Dr. Gail Matthews, a psychology professor at Dominican University in California, “you are 42 percent more likely to achieve your goals just by writing them down.”
Celebrate all your success, no matter how small your victories may be. Small wins still count as steps towards your ultimate goal, so don’t be embarrassed to celebrate your hard work. When something goes right, acknowledge it and give yourself a pat on the back. If your goal is to lose 10 pounds and you lose one pound, that’s still one pound in the right direction. If you wanted to get your entire home organized, and you successfully cleaned out your closet, that’s one big undertaking you can check off your list. Relish in your success; the rest will follow.
When in doubt, focus on how you feel, not what you are doing. It can be easy to get caught up in the numbers, and in how you are measuring up to your goals, literally and figuratively. Instead of thinking about the statistics and the facts, think about your feelings and emotions as you work towards your goals. Sure, you might not be exactly where you hoped to be by February, but do you feel better, do you feel accomplished, do you feel happier and do you still have the same goals? Focusing on your positive emotions will help you work harder to continue that feeling of positivity and joy, and in the end, you’ll stick to your resolutions.