How are those New Year goals going?
Here we are, about to hit February 1st. So how are your resolutions holding up? Are you still going strong? Do you feel like you have established a routine and are building new habits?
I hope so!
Many of us, though, if we are honest, have already let some of our goals slide into lower priorities than what we originally intended. Some have already given up altogether on creating these new habits.
So what happens now?
Do you pretend that your "new year, new me" Facebook post never happened?
Or do you still have a desire to make those changes, but maybe you just aren’t sure what to do next?
Today I’m going to give you a few steps to get you back on track.
1. Be honest about your goals.
Now’s the time to reevaluate! Is your original goal realistic, or does it make you feel overwhelmed, like you’ve failed before you’ve even started?
Sometimes it’s necessary to restate our goals and put them out there in smaller chunks, or to focus on the things that need to happen to get to the overall goal instead of the end result. Otherwise, we may get overwhelmed, which can lead to stagnation and not result in any progress at all!
So for example, if you are wanting to lose weight this year, rather than setting a pound (or jean size) goal up front, focus on the changes that you need to begin to make in order to make that happen. Your goal may be:
January – Exercise 3 times per week. Reduce soda intake to 3 times per week, max.
February – Continue January progress. Also attend yoga classes on Saturday. Reduce soda intake to 1 time per week, max.
You see where I’m going here. Rather than try to do all the things, immediately, focus on smaller goals that help you meet that larger goal and develop healthier habits along the way.
2. Process what is working. And what isn't.
So far you’ve noticed that either you’re doing amazingly well for far at staying motivated, or that you have very little motivation to continue.
What happened to get the progress you’ve made so far? What is working? What isn’t? This step is often missing for people trying to implement new habits.
If you have found that your schedule is too busy to allow for you to do the things you’ve set for yourself, figure out what needs moved or reprioritized to make it happen. You naturally prioritize the things that are important to you. So look at what is getting in your way and make changes to move it.
And be honest with yourself – you are not superhuman, and change takes time.
If this time of year is just busy for you – work, school, kid stuff – make sure that you are accounting for that in your goal setting. Don’t commit yourself to exercise 3 times a week if that’s unrealistic – but start somewhere. Maybe you don’t start with exercise in
January/February, but you focus more on eating healthy foods, cutting out sweets, etc.
Don’t set yourself up for failure on the outset. A year is a long time, and you have time to adjust and still be successful.
3. Make a plan.
Once you see what has been getting in your way, write out your goals again in a way that looks realistic. If it still seems overwhelming, process through your goals with a friend or family member and see if there is a way to break them down even more.
Photo by Glenn Carstens-Peters on Unsplash
A written plan has the added bonus of giving you things to check off along the way, reinforcing your success and giving you the benefit of a small rush of dopamine each time. This, in turn, can keep you motivated to keep hitting those goals!
4. Make ongoing adjustments instead of giving up completely.
How often do we say to ourselves that our goals are too hard, and that we will never make it? We often start out the new year with plenty of motivation, but as life hits, we slowly back away from our goals – stop talking about them, and eventually just stop doing them.
But instead of giving up, we forget that we are the ones with the power over these goals. We made them, we can also adjust them. Sometimes, when life pops up with things that we didn’t expect, we automatically stop working towards our goals.
Instead of stopping – we have the power to adjust them. Figure out how to continually make progress on your goals – even if those steps are smaller than what is ideal.
And sometimes, we just need support to walk through it and help making the plan. If you have looked through your plan and can’t figure out where things are going wrong, feel stagnant from fear, anxiety, the stress of overscheduling, or just feel hopeless – you can work with a counselor to move forward with your goals and get you where you want to be.
There’s still time to make progress on the goals that you’ve set this year – don’t give up!
Brooke Williams, MA, LPC, is a counselor licensed to practice in South Carolina. She specializes in making relationships thrive – whether working on marriages, parenting, friendships, or conflict in the workplace. You can read more about her here.