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How to Set New Years Resolutions We Can Actually Stick To

Turning That Time of Year We All Love to Hate Into Something Better

Note to self: make more time to ride vintage bikes around with suitcases full of jewelry and old photos of my grandparents. 

We are all guilty of it...

That time of year we all love to hate. 

The end of the year, which we fill up with grand aspirations of a "new year, new me!"

...until we fall flat on our asses, eating that leftover pizza at 10 PM. We promised ourselves we wouldn't binge eat in one day because we are quitting junk food, going to bed early, and saving money, damnit!

If we're being honest here, most of our inability to follow through comes from our natural fear of change. We are afraid to get hurt, afraid we can't afford it, afraid we can't do it, afraid that (GASP!) we will somehow change so much that we will lose a part of ourselves and somehow no longer be "us " anymore.  

Or worse, once our dream becomes a reality, will it even live up to our expectations?

Even though there's about as much likelihood of us pulling off every goal we set as there is a dog in a pink, fuzzy sweater knocking on our door to tell us a distant relative we didn't even know existed has left us five billion dollars in her will, we try anyways, and fail, every damn time

Then we cry and eat donuts for breakfast on the way home from the gym and never go back. I mean, come on. A gym membership is hundreds of dollars, and a donut is, what? Like, a dollar

As the end of the year approaches and we all start squeezing our winter thighs into our favourite yoga pants that we should have retired years ago (and have we ever even used them as active wear?)...let's try to remember that Rome wasn't built in a day. 

Change is never easy, but what will make a huge difference in whether or not you succeed is if you break down your goals into smaller pieces and be gentle with yourself.

Breaking Down Your Goals Into Smaller Steps

At least that's what my therapist tells me.

You're not going to get rock solid abs from doing sit ups once, just like how you're not going to get fat from eating one donut. It's a process. 

Take it one step at a time. Set small, attainable goals for yourself that will put you on the path to completing your bigger goals as a whole

Want to start eating healthier? Find one new recipe to try per week until you've found out how to make eating healthy, fun, and enjoyable.

Want to get into shape, but haven't worked out since 12th grade gym class? Start by taking the stairs at work instead of the elevator. 

If our goals end up making our lives suck, then what's the point? Isn't the point of resolutions to make our lives better?

Changing Your Mindset

I did a sit up, once. It was awful.

One thing I've learned from raising kids is that, if you tell them not to do something, they will immediately go do that thing.  

Well, guess what? Your brain does the same damn thing. If you tell yourself you're not going to stay up late, that's exactly what you're going to do. 

Want proof? The next time you're driving, and you see a pothole, tell yourself "Don't hit that pothole!"

Guaran-fucking-teed you will. 

Next time, try aiming for the road you actually want to drive on, instead of focusing on what you don't want. 

Attaining our goals works the same way! We need to focus on what we do want, instead of what we don't. 

If we tell ourselves not to eat junk food, we're going to be miserable snacking on those kale leaves we brought for lunch. 

In fact, we're probably going to want to tell salad to go to hell as we eat our third bacon cheeseburger of the night and binge watch Mind Hunter and tell ourselves "tomorrow will be different." 

Instead, we need to set a positive frame of mind for ourselves, find healthy meals we actually enjoy, and practice delayed gratification, so we know, at some point, we can eat a damn donut. We just need to decide when that point is for us. 

Is it once a day? Every three days? Once a month? Find what makes sense for you and clarify your own rules for yourself so you have a plan to follow. 

Setting Ourselves up for Success

In the incredibly affluent words of my 6 year old, " You gon' die, bro!"

The thing about change that we all seem to forget is that it's gradual.

By jumping feet first into our goals without any forethought or planning, we are unconsciously setting ourselves up for failure. 

We bite off more than we can chew by making impulsive and drastic changes that, ultimately, we cannot uphold, and we end up fizzling out until our big plans become nothing more than good intentions

We expect to be able to completely overhaul our entire lives in one fell swoop, then we are left wondering why that didn't work.

We have this expectation that change should be a huge production that suddenly will make us feel completely different. 

Yet, if we change our mindset and break down our goals into a process, the change will be so gradual that you hardly notice it. Until you realize that you actually pulled it off months ago. 

How many times have we unconsciously pulled off things that should have been extremely difficult, only to look back and realize "Wow! I didn't even notice that I ________?"

When we stop setting expectations and boundaries on ourselves and our experiences, like "When I ________, I will finally be happy," only then do we allow ourselves to relax and not feel disappointed when things didn't go exactly as planned, and we don't feel the way we thought we would feel. 

Throw those thoughts right out the window, because they are a one-way ticket to a huge blow to our self-esteem and confidence. 

As the old saying goes—"Money does not buy happiness." 

If we want to succeed, then we need to stop thinking of ourselves as this hypothetical future self, and work with our present selves, and all of our personal strengths and weaknesses.

What are some of your personal goals for this upcoming year? 

Share them with me on Facebook or Twitter!

I'll be sharing some of mine with you throughout the New Year!

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