Enough people abandon their New Year’s Resolutions by January 17 that the day has officially been dubbed “Ditch Day.”
But not around here.
Around here, we don’t give up on the promises we make to ourselves. We don’t quit on our dreams. We don’t have an all or nothing mentality which means when we slip — when we skip a walk, eat ice cream or snap at our kids — we don’t throw in the towel. We keep going.
We understand that crushing any important goal is hard. Like, really hard. And we know that effectuating real change takes real work.
Here are nine ways to keep from ditching your New Year’s Resolutions:
1. Remember your why
You set an intention to effectuate real change and crush some goals in 2020. But when the day-to-day challenges and stress start to set in, it becomes increasingly difficult to prioritize the work it takes to effectuate real change and crush new goals. The key is remembering WHY that change, that goal, that resolution is important to you. Write it down. Post it where you can see it: Sharpie on the bathroom mirror, sticky note on your computer, sign on your fridge. This feels kinda corny, which is why a lot of people don’t do it. But it works, which is why you should.
2. Reframe your Resolution from a negative to a positive
One of the biggest problems with New Year’s Resolutions is that they are often framed in the negative — something you want to quit or give up. “I want to lose weight.” “I want to quit smoking.” “I want to give up sugar, or gluten or caffeine or processed foods.” “I want to stop yelling at my kids.” “I want to clean the garage.”
You get the idea.
But how ‘bout we rephrase all of these to reflect something we want rather than something we don’t? Because it is so, so much easier to work toward something than it is to simply stop doing something.
So instead of “I want to lose weight” how ‘bout “I want to walk a 5k” or “get off my blood pressure medicine.” Instead of “I want to stop yelling at my kids” how ‘bout “I want to read them a nightly bedtime story.”
Look at any resolution or promise you made to yourself and reframe it from something you want to quit or give up to something you want.
3. Create a game plan
Don’t dive into your resolutions blindly. Plan ahead for how you will deal with the urge to ditch when it inevitably comes up physically and emotionally.
Create a list of all the reasons your resolution will improve your life and what the consequences will be if you ditch. Plan to discuss your moments of weakness with a loved one, practice positive self-affirmations, whatever you think will best keep you on track. Create a supportive team.
4. Track your progress
You know what they say… if you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it. You must have a way to know if the things you are doing are leading you to the place you want to go.
Let’s say you are working to improve your fitness to get yourself off of your blood pressure medication. Awesome. Step one: make an appointment with your doctor. Get all of your levels measured. I know, this sucks. Do it anyway. Tell your doctor what you are planning to accomplish this year, and make a follow-up appointment. Put it on your calendar. Don’t cancel it.
If you are working toward a 5k, 10k or half marathon, track your progress every day.
And hey, if you are trying to walk your way to better, break out your 99 Walks app, take those intentional walks, and we will track it for you!
5. Celebrate your successes, no matter how tiny
We are so, so good at beating ourselves up when we screw up and so, so bad at congratulating ourselves when we don’t. We can walk five days for three weeks, and then miss two and boom, we will call ourselves a failure. One piece of cake and we wake up with anger in our hearts, aimed at ourselves, of course.
This year, let’s celebrate the successes, no matter how tiny. Ate an apple at 4:00 instead of a cookie? Read your daughter a bedtime story and got her down with no fuss? Folded the laundry immediately and put it away instead of leaving it in the corner of the bedroom for three days? Throw yourself a little dance party! Answered 30 emails without distraction? Take a walk, grab a coffee, call a friend.
This year, let’s reward ourselves all the friggin’ time!
6. Accept your setbacks and move on
Guess what? There will be days when you fall off of whatever wagon your resolution put you on. There will be days you skip your walk, eat birthday cake, blow off your morning meditation or snap at your kids. It is inevitable.
Here’s what you get — here’s what I’m giving you — an absolute max of one hour to wallow. One hour to feel bad because feeling a little bad is okay. It is part of the process. You made a promise to yourself, you set an intention and you behaved in a way that wasn’t consistent with the promise you made to yourself or the intention you set. Frankly, you should feel a little bad. But just a little. Because the road is long and the challenges are real. And the key — the absolute key — is what you do with those feelings. You have two choices: declare yourself a failure and give up or accept that you are not perfect, get up and try again.
We are the kind of people who accept that we are not perfect, get up and try again. Which leads me to …
7. Watch Your Self-Talk
Oh, the voices in our heads. Wouldn’t it be nice if we could talk to ourselves with the perfect combination of compassion and encouragement? But most of us can’t. Most of us are our own harshest critics. These voices come from a myriad of places and for many of us, nothing but a whole lotta’ therapy will help untangle them (which is often a good idea since, as my mother once said about therapy, “hey, at least you’ll learn something”).
The best, and simplest way, that I have found to control the voices in my head is to create a list of the kind of person I want to be. Literally, a list. And on that list are the things I am striving to be. For instance, I have written down:
- I am the kind of person who eats lots of fresh vegetables.
- I am the kind of person who walks, even when I think I’m too tired.
- I’m the kind of person who speaks kindly to my family.
- I’m the kind of person who greets strangers with a smile.
- I’m the kind of person who swims in the ocean
You have the power to define yourself. Go ahead. Make a list.
8. Better Together
While only you can crush your own goals, it helps a ton to have support. And the thing is, there are probably people in your life who will help you — if you ask. But we don’t ask. Because we don’t want to be a burden. We don’t want to appear weak. We don’t think we need help, or we don’t think we deserve help. We think we are supposed to do it all ourselves.
That is hogwash. We need each other. We need to build each other up. And if you don’t have people in your life who do that for you, get some new people. I know, totally harsh. But totally true.
Now tell a couple of those people what your goal is. Ask them to support you and, if at all possible, tell them how. And then offer to do the same for them, because chances are, they have goals they want to crush and dreams they want to come true. Be each other’s support system.
And if you really don’t have those people in your life, you will find them in the 99 Walks Facebook group. Join us there. We will build you up. We will support your dreams and your goals. We will cheer on your successes and help you forgive yourself when you need to. Because we are the kind of people who build each other up.
9. Don’t Give Up
Sorry. I know, I wish there was some magic bullet. But sometimes, heck usually, sticking to the resolution, building the new habit that carries you forward toward your goal requires a tremendous act of will. You have to simply be the kind of person who doesn’t give up. And you may have to repeat that to yourself every friggin’ day.
And that, my friends, is how we don’t ditch.