2 tactics to help you stick to your New Year resolutions

At the beginning of a new year, we all have the desire to do amazing things that year. We sign up for resolutions such as eating healthy, exercising more, traveling more, getting new hobbies, etc etc. What we also know is that majority of us have a very hard time keeping up with our resolutions.

In my own personal experience too, I’ve found that after the initial excitement at the beginning of the year, I fall back to the old rhythm of things. The resolutions remain just that – just resolutions.

How can you convert your resolutions into a reality? Is there a way to actually make these resolutions happen?

I’ve found two ways that seem to work for me. The first is easy, the second is a bit harder.

Tactic #1: Get things down on your calendar already

Say your New Year resolution is to travel more. Find a place that you want to go to, decide on when you want to go, book a place to stay right now, and put the trip down on your calendar. Instead of waiting for the perfect time to show up, block your calendar already. Similarly, if your resolution is to pick a new hobby. Find a class, online or in-person, and book slots right now.

I’ve found that once something is booked and on my calendar, then it’s very hard for me to not do it. If it’s not on my calendar, it’s going to be extremely hard for me to make the time for something that’s not already a part of my routine. For example – in the year before Covid, I really wanted to do a big hiking trip. But I’d been wanting to do that for a long time and never gotten around to doing it. The change I made is that instead of hoping to find the time for the trip during the year, I decided to hike Mt. Kilimanjaro, found a local guide who could help us, picked a week in July for traveling, and paid the money for the booking. Once the booking was on my calendar, I knew that I’d have to plan one way or another.

Similarly, this year, I want to pick up a new creative skill. I’ve signed up for pottery classes already. Now that they’re on my calendar, I’ll be forced to go. If I didn’t have anything on my calendar, I would have been procrastinating out of sheer laziness, and not done anything.

If you don’t block your calendar early in the year, something or the other is going to fill your time – work, family…life. Get ahead of that when you can. Lean into your energy at this time to block your calendar with things you really want to do!

Tactic #2: Create Systems rather than Goals to be able to really bring about changes

I’ve seen this quote multiple times by now, so I’m not sure who to attribute this to, but the gist is this – “You don’t rise to the level of your goals. You fall to the level of your systems.

Something similar is echoed by James Clear, author of the book “Atomic Habits”. A few excerpts:

Goals are about the results you want to achieve. Systems are about the processes that lead to those results. Goals are good for setting a direction but systems are best for making progress. Ultimately it is your commitment to the process that will determine your progress.

Atomic Habits, James Clear

What this means is that it’s not super helpful to set a goal such as “I have to lose 5 lbs in weight”. Once you achieve that goal, you might fall back to your old habits, and regain that weight. Or you might be having an internal battle everyday on what to eat and whether or not to exercise. A better approach is to set a system such as “I will exercise for 30 mins each morning”. Now, as long as you can stick to this process even few days a week, you will lose weight over time, and become healthy for life.

For example – I really want to eat healthy home cooked food this year. I’ve been trying to do this for a long time, but cooking food regularly is a very time consuming exercise, and it’s the first thing that goes out the window whenever I have work. I’ve not been able to find a way around this. This is not for lack of intent. I want to eat healthy, and relish homemade meals more than eating outside. But cooking food everyday or even doing big batch cooking every weekend is too much for me. And so this time, I’ve decided that this is important enough for me to hire a cook who can come and make food on weekends. Once I have a good food in the refrigerator, I’ll make it a lot easier for myself to eat healthy, rather than reach out for junk food.

I really think that the two tactics above can vastly improve how successful you are at keeping your resolutions. With just a little bit of forward thinking early in the year, you can sprinkle a lot of good things throughout your year and make significant changes in your life! šŸ™‚

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