‘New Year, new me!’
‘That’s it, come 2018 I’m saving up for a trip to Europe!’
‘December 31 will be the last day I skip the gym to binge a new Netflix original!’
It’s probably safe to say we’ve all been there. We’ve all felt the ‘end of an era’ approaching as the new year crept up on us, and we probably made some promises to ourselves and set goals for the year of possibilities that laid ahead. And what a perfect time to start!
The problem is…many people find that New Year resolutions are difficult to keep, and some even argue that they simply can’t work. But we’re not about that kind of negative thinking here at Go Against the Flow! We want to see resolutioners everywhere believing in themselves and succeeding in 2018!
We’ve decided that to inspire you to be your badassiest selves, we would study and research how to make 2018 be the year the resolutions were kept! We’ve heard a lot of funny failures and some incredible successes, but most importantly we’ve found five key elements to lead you to success.
- Make measurable goals
Ok, raise your hand if you’ve ever set a goal that sounded something like this: ‘I want to get better grades/lose weight/learn to play guitar’. Yeah, that’s what we thought. Everyone’s hand is up, except for that person in total denial. Setting a goal is a great pre-step, but your first step should be setting a measurable goal.
What we mean by this is making your goal specific and able to be proven as achieved or not achieved. If your resolution is to get better grades, define what ‘better’ means. Because it’s different for each individual, set your goal according to your standards. Do you want HD in every course, or do you want to aim for a specific WAM? If you want to lose weight, try rewording it to something like gaining a specific percentage of muscle mass, or by aiming for a specific (and remember to keep it realistic!) number of kilograms you would like to shed.
- Make it easy to implement within the first month
There’s been a lot of chatter in the psychology realm that it takes 21 days to develop a new habit. Easy! If you’re looking to start saving for a trip abroad, pinching pennies will be like a second nature after month #1. The important thing to remember about this is to make sure you can get through the almighty month #1.
To explain this, let’s stick with the holiday prep resolution. You’ve set the measurable goal of saving $100 each week and only going out one night a month in order to save. You’re on the right path, but what if all your mates have birthdays in January? And you don’t technically start working until mid-January?
While it’s totally possible to make up for lost time come February or March, having the big ol’ resolution take-off be so rocky could really cause some trouble. Making the first month of a goal be a strong start is important to the morale of the project. Sometimes it’s inevitable, sure, but if you can make month #1 smooth sailing, you’ll probably be seeing a lot more success.
So, what if it is inevitable to have a rocky January? We still want you aiming high for those goals, so don’t toss the plan out the window just yet! A fair alternative is to wait until February to begin working toward your resolution. It might delay the goal, which of course sounds crazy, but having a clear start date to your goal could aid in the mental preparation. The start of the New Year seems like the best time, but if you can’t commit hardcore to the first month, try a New Month resolution instead.
- Add new habits on to your existing ones
We are constantly finding ourselves busy as bees in our office, and we’re willing to bet that you’ve got a full plate most days as well! Setting new goals and forming new habits can sometimes be that bit too much that drown us.
We’ve found that the most successful resolutions alter your daily life ever-so-slightly, that you hardly notice it at all! Last year, our colleague wanted to practice what we preach and work in pelvic floor exercises every single day. She’s was already a top-notch athlete and had a great workout routine for the other muscles and decided that the easiest way to follow through with her resolution was to add a pelvic floor regime to her already-existing routine. Adding another ten minutes to her daily routine was so simple that she was successful in her 2017 resolution and says that she can’t see why it wouldn’t stick in 2018, too!
Of course, adding time to an already existing workout is a pretty straightforward way to add new habits to your existing ones. What if your resolution is to read one more book a month? A similar strategy to our colleagues would be carrying your book with you wherever you go. This would allow you to read while waiting for the train, or waiting in line, or using that four minutes before class begins to get a few pages in. The important thing is to make your resolution do-able and not adding stress by demanding another hour out of your jam-packed schedule.
- Be honest with yourself about why you’re making this choice
This can be the toughest part about a resolution, but certainly the most important. It isn’t about playing therapist with yourself and finding out your deep desire to be accepted or something nutty like that. Acknowledging what it is you want to see change or improved over the next year can help you work towards that goal with more purpose and drive.
One of our favourite resolutions from 2017 was to unplug from the digital world a bit by only using social media in the evenings between 5pm and 8pm. At first when we dug into why that was such a popular resolution, the common answer was something along the lines of ‘I spend too much time on it’. While that is probably true (because honestly, we all do), why does spending too much time online seem like a bad thing? Why is that something people would want to change? Well, we finally got some answers. One guy said that he felt like he and his girlfriend spent their quality time together on their phones and he didn’t want to lose their connection. Another person said social media was having her admire other people’s lives instead of living her own. We all have a reason for our goals, and no matter how simple or complex they may be, it’s important to acknowledge them so we can remember what is important.
- Put something on the line!
Ok, so you’ve set a measurable resolution and January is going to be a breeze. It’ll be an easy habit to implement and you know what’s driving this change. The final step to a successful resolution for 2018? Hold yourself accountable!
A lot of people find it easy to stick with a goal when others know that the goal is in motion. Does telling your best friends or family about your resolution help you in sticking it through? If it doesn’t, or you need more convincing, we’ve got your back with some fun (ish) options.
A classic way to hold yourself accountable is to place a resolution dinner bet with a friend or a group of friends. Start the New Year together (or with a group chat) and proclaim your 2018 resolutions. Anyone who doesn’t follow through with their resolution owes the rest of the group dinner (homemade, Menulog, or make it high stakes and pick a place downtown!).
If the dinner bet is a bit too much pressure, try making a bet with yourself. You can do this in a lot of ways from treating yourself when you succeed to using cash as a reward itself. For example, at the start of the year take out $120 in cash and give it to a trusted family member. Tell them your goal and at the end of each successful month, they can give you $10. After getting these sick tips from Go Against the Flow, you shouldn’t have to worry about what will happen if you fail, but if you need something in place, you can plan to donate $10 a month if you were unsuccessful.
Have any friends with the same resolution? Making that extra exercise regime a group activity or turning that reading list into a book club is certainly a fun way to keep pushing your good habits.
So now that you know the secrets, what is going to be your big 2018 resolution? Are you finally going to save for that something special or is a healthy lifestyle the name of your game? We’d love to hear what is on the 2018 to-do list! Let us know what you’re doing and how you go this year in the comments! Have any other tips our readers might like to know? Send those our way, too!
Happy New Year from Go Against the Flow