If you’re like most people in the world right now, you’ve adopted the mantra “new year, new me.” You may be embarking on a plan to renew your life and your commitment to your goals. Maybe you’re trying to lose weight, quit smoking, or spend more time learning a new language. Even if all your intentions are good, it can be discouraging if the process of self-discipline feels more like drudgery. Here’s how to work toward achieving your New Year’s Resolutions—and have fun in the process, too.
Enlist a Buddy
Change is hard. Whether you’re giving up sugar or trying to establish an exercise routine, it’s a lot tougher if you’re going it alone. A friend or significant other can help make it easier to implement good changes. You can help motivate each other and act as accountability partners. You’re less likely to give up on your resolution to go running before work if you’ve got someone willing to go along with you.
Make Goals More Manageable
Big goals can feel overwhelming, especially if you only measure success by completion. If you want to lose 25 pounds, that goal can seem pretty far away—which in turn makes you more likely to cheat on your efforts “just this once.” Celebrate your smaller milestones as checkpoints on the way toward the big goal. If you celebrate every five pounds you lose (or every week without a cigarette, if you’re trying to quit smoking), you’re more likely to reach the finish line.
Give Yourself Little Rewards
Many of us struggle with finding appropriate rewards for ourselves, particularly if we’re trying to lose weight. Our culture is one that strongly associates food with rewards, and the reward foods are more likely to be chocolate or gooey pizza than a healthy, crisp apple. Give yourself small, non-food rewards when you reach each stage of your goal. Maybe you would like to get a new shirt or treat yourself to a day at the bookstore or at a sporting event. There’s no wrong answer about which rewards you choose, as long as it doesn’t contradict your goals.
Set Resolutions that are More Fun
We tend to think that resolutions should be about self-improvement—which means that they will probably require a lot of work. It’s hard to get excited about breaking bad habits, even if you know it will be worth it in the end. While it’s still a good idea to try to become your best self, why not set some goals that are fun in themselves? You could set a resolution to get together with an old friend once a week, instead of just saying you should get together more often. Or you could resolve to spend some time every week truly laughing, whether you watch a funny movie or get together with that friend who cracks you up. Set a resolution to experience more joy and get really creative in pursuit of making it happen.
Shake Things Up A Little
Chances are good that you have made this same resolution before and you already have a predictable plan for how to achieve it. But when your predictable plan is too familiar, you can quickly lose enthusiasm for it. Or maybe you are just feeling the normal January “blahs” that so many of us experience. Now is a good time to change things up and say goodbye to the ordinary. If you’re trying to establish an exercise routine, maybe you would enjoy doing a completely different type of exercise than you’ve ever done before. (If you normally do Zumba, maybe you’d like mixed martial arts?) A little bit of novelty and a change in the “same-old, same-old” can renew your energy and excitement.
Making resolutions and working to achieve them is a valuable investment in yourself. Let me know how I can help!
Suzi Sena, EdS, LPC provides individual, couple, and career counseling to clients of Connecticut Integrative Counseling, LLC.