I have a hard time maintaining and succeeding in my New Year’s resolutions. I know that I am not alone, with many people either not making any resolutions or not making it past the three-month mark. I find that by the second week of the year, for me, I start to flag in my motivation to keep my resolutions. By February I am “resolution, what?”
I have a few ideas as to why that is the case. I don’t plan. I am not organized. And I don’t take any productive steps to make the changes in order to be successful.
Usually, December 31st rolls around and I am like: “Oh yeah, I need to make some resolutions to start tomorrow.” Then I hold them in my mind but make no attempt to write them down or plan out my path to success.
This year is a little different. I have already listed my resolutions and I really want to see myself succeed. But I have to organize myself first. I may be a couple weeks late, but better late than never?
So now that we have the first week under our belts, I pulled together some hints to help succeed in maintaining those resolutions through the power of organization.
The Science of Success: Personal Organization
Organization, for the most part, is the key to personal success. When I think of organization, I think of action plans, to do lists, calendars, and apps that flash reminders on your phone. To be fair, that tends to be the gist of organization. But what does it mean to be organized?
Organization is about seeing both the big picture/end goal and breaking it down into its smaller, more manageable parts.
College advisors have web pages that are filled with tips and tricks on how to organize yourself for academic success. Transferring these tips into a real-world application, these are great ideas for personal organization and managing your resolutions.
Maintaining Resolution Success
The first step is to ask yourself: what is the most important goal I have for myself this year? Look at the resolution as the journey to the end-goal, not the end-goal itself. As a fellow blogger, My MS and Me put it best: consider your resolution “aims”, not as a resolution. An aim seems more achievable, whereas a resolution has the stigma of failure attached to it.
Keep in mind: you don’t need to wait until January 1st to make changes. If the date is important to you, consider starting at the beginning of the month, or the beginning of the week. Otherwise, don’t wait a whole year. Start now.
Below are some steps for organizing your resolution/aims if you haven’t already done so:
- Do what works best for you. I feel this should be the first step. While I provide suggestions based on what works for me, you may already have a few ideas that work better for you, so stick to them. They may need some modifications in order to increase your chances of success, but don’t think there is anything wrong with them if you don’t see your way anywhere else.
- Create or buy a calendar that you will always check. I love the idea of physical calendars, but find that I spend more time on my phone, so a separate Google calendar works best for me. I am more likely to check this calendar and update it on a daily basis.
- Create a soft end-date for your goal, not just December 31st. This doesn’t need to be a permanent deadline, but something to plan your next steps toward. Make sure to put this on your calendar and set up reminders to keep checking how close you are to this date.
- In the calendar, set up a series of benchmarks for your goal. If you are trying to lose weight, set a reasonable plan for how many pounds you want to lose in a specific period of time. Mini-goals help keeps you on track and focused towards the ultimate goal.
- Write down everything you think you need to achieve your goal on the calendar or a separate notebook. For some, it may be types of recipes, types of training plans, diets, doctors to see, etc. Write down everything that comes to mind. If it’s on paper you aren’t going to forget it.
- Again, I don’t do well with paper anymore, so I use Evernote as a means organize myself because I can pull it up on my phone much quicker and transfer it to my computer. I highly recommend using their service if you prefer to work digitally.
- Organize those thoughts into sub-categories. With weight loss: group recipe ideas together, exercise ideas together, weight loss goals together, and rewards for achievements together. That way it will be easier for you to find what you are looking for when you are looking for it. It’s breaking things down into manageable chunks.
- Create a to-do list and make sure to include “review goals and notes” as a daily task. Writing everything down is great, but if you don’t remember to check everything frequently, it’s going to be meaningless. It helps with personal accountability.
- I like to use Todoist because it integrates with my Alexa, Evernote, and Google Calendar to remind me to do my tasks. I am also able to group projects together and collaborate with Ash on specific tasks.
- Make sure you check things off your to-do list, no matter how menial a task it is. It makes you feel better and like you are taking steps towards accomplishing your goals. Take advantage of those feel-good feelings.
- Acknowledge your stumbling blocks. This one is especially important. Figure out what hinders you and keeps you from achieving your goals. They are going to come up, so be aware of them and prepare.
- Write these stumbling blocks in your notebook. Create a plan of action for each of these possible issues. For example: if you know a party is going to be problematic for your diet, come up with ways to address it by planning to eat before going, or planning to bring something for yourself to eat (that you can share).
- Keep track of everything you can. For some people, keeping a journal or a blog of their day-to-day operations helps keep them focused. For others, keeping track of each point achieved or missed works best. But try to keep track of everything you can because it will give you something to look back to when you need it.
- Assign rest days. If you have a goal that is physical-based, then there is an importance to taking a day off here and there. Getting a break from something gives your mind/body a chance to reset, regroup, and push forward. Just make sure that one day of rest doesn’t turn into weeks of getting off track.
- Accept and learn from your stumbles. You will fail from time-to-time. And that’s okay as long as you learn from it. You may not reach your weight loss goal for the week or at the time of your soft end-goal. Review your notes; see where you might improve, and plan to adapt it tomorrow. Do not look at the stumbles as a failure, but a chance to grow and do better next time.
- Set up rewards for achieving small successes. If you want to stay motivated, give yourself something to be motivated for. They say this all the time for weight loss: buy yourself something special for every 5 or 10 pounds you lose to keep you going. This works with other goals you might have. It’s all about rewarding and providing yourself with a sense of accomplishment. This will create positive feedback and make each benchmark easier to achieve.
Dealing with Bad Days
I wrote a post last year about practicing self-care as a means of being generous to yourself but also look at self-care as a means to be okay when you have a bad day working towards achieving your resolution. Not every day will be perfect and so you need to be okay with that.
There may be days or even weeks where you forget to review your notes, and that’s okay. Sit down and take a moment to figure out why you are avoiding the matter. This may fall under an unforeseen stumbling block you outlined in your planning. What is it about the whole project that is getting you to avoid dealing with it? Once you can begin to answer that question, you can figure out how to move forward with it.
Everyone stumbles and falls, but if you acknowledge that it will happen and take care of yourself when that happens, it should be easier for you to get up and try again with minimal side-tracking. Listen and be gentle with yourself. A resolution is something deeply personal, therefore the only person you are accountable to is yourself.
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Featured photo credit: Michelle Melton Photography