New year, new me! This slogan surrounds us. As we jump into the new year, many of us make resolutions to make this year, or this version of ourselves, the best. The issue: by the time February rolls around, most of us typically abandon our resolutions. However, I am here to tell you that this year is going to be different and give a little insight as to how to stick with the resolutions you set so that they soon become part of your lifestyle. Full disclosure—before I tell you the steps you need to take in order to be the best you, I need to warn you, I am no expert. Like the majority of people reading this, I am a high school student and am nowhere near “figuring it out”, but my hope is that we can figure it out together.
The first and most substantial issue with the resolutions we set for ourselves is that they are often very unrealistic. Whether we want to quit caffeine, work out five times a week, or go on a diet, we can’t just dive in and expect perfection. You have to start small and set reasonable, achievable goals. When starting a new resolution, our brains reach out for the “lowest bar,” or our highest level of training. This means that you should always start your changes at the highest level you have pushed yourself. For instance, if I normally run one mile every day, it is unhealthy and unrealistic to assume that I could start running ten miles every day. To achieve that level of training, I would need to begin by gradually increasing my mileage to create a habit rather than trying to meet unrealistic goals. The same could be said for someone who drinks a caffeinated beverage every day; it is not plausible to, on January 1st, suddenly stop drinking caffeine altogether. The key lies in setting small goals. For someone looking to cut caffeine out of their diet, a realistic and achievable goal may be only drinking caffeine on weekdays, then slowly weaning yourself off altogether.
The next thing to be mindful of is what you tell yourself you will do. If on Monday, you commit to plans with a friend even though you know you most likely won’t want to go when the day comes, you are not setting yourself up for success. The same could be said for when you tell yourself you will run “tomorrow” or “after work”. The bane of resolutions is the “I’ll do it later” mindset. When you continue to break the promises you set for yourself, or make unrealistic promises, it is hard to make any progress. Good ways to avoid this include thinking over what you commit to beforehand and conditioning yourself to stick to it, rather than conditioning yourself to flake out on your plans or goals.
The last and most basic problem humans face is simply remembering. Many people want desperately to stick to their resolutions but simply can’t start changing their habits because of their untrustworthy hippocampus. The easiest, most foolproof way to combat this is by setting reminders for yourself. Use whatever method you find helpful whether it be cellphone reminders, your weekly planner, or sticky notes stuck on your bathroom mirror. Before I let you loose to go forth and conquer your resolutions, I would be remiss not to recommend starting a bullet journal and/or habit tracker. These tools will make it infinitely easier for you to keep track of all the things you want to achieve in the new year.
Just know that it is possible to stay true to your resolutions so long as you are willing to put in the work. Hopefully something among these six-hundred-something words resonated with you and that you will be able to use this knowledge to help stick with your resolutions and achieve your full potential as your soar into 2020!