Ringing in the new year is a joyous, exciting occasion. It’s the time to reflect on the year gone by and think about what you want to accomplish in the year ahead. 45% of Americans will also make New Year’s resolutions as a way to make positive changes and set new goals. But with only 8% of people actually accomplishing these goals, does it even make sense to make New Year’s resolutions? Or is there a better, more productive way to set new goals?
There are a lot of reasons why so many people give up on their resolutions. One explanation is called the “what the hell effect,” where when you have one moment when you don’t stick to your goal, you give up on the week altogether, thinking you’ll get a fresh start the next week. This often happens when you set resolutions that are too ambitious and too difficult to keep up.
Instead of making broad resolutions, maybe it’s best to regularly make manageable goals and check in on progress throughout the year. It’ll make your year more productive, and you’ll avoid the disappointment when you realize you didn’t keep your resolution (like 92% of the population).
Here are some simple tips to set new goals throughout the year.
- When You Want to Make a Change, Start Right Away
There is never a “right” time to make a change. You don’t have to wait until the start of another year or a new week to change up your routine. It might be tempting to think “I’ll start my diet after the company dinner this Friday,” but it’s best to just make a new goal in the moment. When you feel the need to make improvements in your life, do it then and there.
- Manage Your Time
One reason people give up on their goals is because they think they’re too busy. Make your goals a new priority and schedule time to do them. Time tracking software like DeskTime can help with this. Figure out where you’re spending time on unnecessary tasks and make room for goals that are important to you.
- Manage Your Expectations
Don’t set yourself up for failure. Make a concrete, manageable goal you know you’ll be able to accomplish. Instead of just resolving to exercise more, set a measurable target. Start with running one mile without stopping. When you can do that, up it to 1.5 miles without stopping, and so forth. If you set a goal that’s too difficult to stick with, you’ll just feel discouraged and give up.
- Don’t Beat Yourself Up
If you do have a busy period where you can’t devote as much energy to your goals, don’t worry about it. As mentioned above, the “what the hell effect” is a huge deterrent to keeping New Year’s Resolutions. So what if you didn’t have time to exercise one day? That’s no reason to give up for the rest of the week. A little bit is better than nothing. Do what you can with the time you have. And if you find that this is a continuous problem, it might be time to readjust your expectations, make a new goal, and start over.
- Make New Habits
The key to accomplishing goals and creating real change is by making them a habit. It won’t always be easy or fun at first, but the longer you stick with something new, it’ll become part of your new routine. According to research, a new habit can take anywhere from 18 to 254 days to become routine, so be patient and don’t give up.
There’s no denying that New Year’s is an ideal time for reflection and excitement, but don’t limit your resolutions to this period of time. You can always make positive change, whenever you feel the need.