If you’re like most people, every year you set several big, lofty goals for the New Year: maybe it’s to lose 30 pounds, to eat cleaner or to exercise more, or even to run a 10K. Most New Year’s Resolutions revolve around losing weight or exercise goals, and most people have given up their goals by February. There’s a reason that gym is packed the week after New Year’s and practically empty come Valentine’s Day!
According to a study conducted by the University of Scranton, just 8 percent of people achieve their New Year’s goals, while around 80 percent fail to keep their New Year’s resolutions.
You can keep and attain those New Year’s resolutions and be successful. By setting realistic and attainable goals and making a few other changes, you can make 2020 the year you accomplish your goals. Here are 20 tips for 2020 to get you started and to help you reach your goals.
1. Plan ahead. Don’t wait until New Year’s Eve to make your resolutions. Plan your goals well ahead of December 31.
2. Don’t make too many resolutions. To increase your chances of success, it’s better to pick one realistic goal and set small steps to achieve it rather than making a list of several resolutions.
3. Don’t make the same resolution year after year. Perhaps you’ve made the same resolution each year—to lose 30 pounds, for example. And every year, you’ve failed to reach your goal. Instead, this year, break down that big goal into smaller goals such as “lose 10 pounds by April 1″ or “exercise 3 times per week.” Then re-evaluate and set new goals after you reach your first small goal.
4. Set attainable and meaningful goals. When making your resolutions, be specific and have identifiable steps of how you will reach your goal. One way to do this is by following the SMART acronym – Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, Time-bound. Learn more here.
5. Write it down. Write down your resolution and break it down into smaller steps that you can follow to help you reach your ultimate goal.
6. Post it somewhere visible. After writing down your goals, post them on your fridge or bathroom mirror, or wherever they’ll be most visible for you to see daily to help keep yourself motivated.
7. Plan a time frame. Buy a calendar or use an online tracker so you can plan your action list for the coming weeks and months. This way, you can assess your short-term progress and make adjustments along the way.
8. Track your progress. Using that same calendar or online tool, track your progress. Record little achievements as well as big ones. For example, if you made it to the gym four times one week, record it.
9. Set rewards along the way. To help yourself stay motivated, reward yourself along the way. For example, if your goal was to lose 30 pounds, reward yourself for your first five pounds lost. Rewards can be such things as treating yourself to a spa day or buying yourself a new pair of sneakers, but stay away from food-based rewards especially if your resolution is to get healthy in the new year.
10. Announce it to friends and family. Tell your family and friends about your resolutions, and ask them to help support you in the new year. You could also post it on social media to enlist the support of your friend network and to help keep yourself accountable.
11. Enlist a partner. If you have a friend who has the same or similar goals for the new year, partner with them to help keep each other motivated and accountable.
12. Find digital support. If you can’t find a real life partner, look for support online. There are numerous online support groups for diet and exercise programs, as well as social media groups.
13. Take advantage of technology. Make use of tools such as Fitbits, trackers, cell phones, or other online support tools to help you track your progress and stick to your goals.
14. Have a plan to deal with setbacks. You will experience setbacks along the way, but as long as you have a plan on how to deal with them, they don’t have to unravel all of your progress. If you fall off your healthy eating plan, for example, get right back on it the following day.
15. Don’t beat yourself up. Don’t obsess over occasional slip-ups. Take things one day at a time and use your plan for handling setbacks.
16. Keep trying. Once you’ve had a setback, or several, you may feel completely discouraged and ready to give up. If by mid-February you feel like you want to throw in the towel, don’t! Recommit yourself for 24 hours. Then set another 24-hour goal and build from there, and soon, you’ll be right back on track.
17. Know when to take a break. Burnout will happen if you don’t allow yourself to take breaks. Find time every day to relax and especially to let your mind relax and not hyper-focus on reaching your goal.
18. Be patient. Change takes time. Be patient with yourself and know that change won’t happen overnight or even in one week or month.
19. Re-evaluate after six weeks or six months. Check in after a period of time and re-evaluate your goals. Are you where you wanted to be? What changes can you make to help you reach your goal? Have you already reached or surpassed your initial goal? What can you do to keep improving yourself?
20. Celebrate all successes. If your resolutions revolve around weight loss or exercise goals, it’s important to have small, measurable ways to see progress. Don’t base your goals only around a number on the scale. Take your measurements before starting a weight loss or exercise program, and periodically remeasure to see changes. Are you feeling less winded when taking the stairs at work? That’s progress too! Celebrate all of your successes, no matter how small.