The fresh start mentality of the new year has come and gone, and perhaps you’ve slipped back into your old ways. But don’t worry—it’s not too late to climb back aboard the New Year’s Resolution wagon.
Maybe you’ve stopped going to the gym, slipped back into the habit of buying your morning coffee, or failed to regularly contribute to your savings account. Whatever your New Year’s Resolution was, read on to learn a few tips on how you can get yourself back on track.
1. Reassess your original goal
Whether you’ve given up on your resolution, or simply haven’t been achieving your goal as quickly as you’d hoped to, it’s a good idea to look back at your original plan and ask yourself a few questions: What made you stop working towards your goal? Was your goal realistic, or was it too big of a change all at once? Were you unable to fit your goal into your schedule or lifestyle? Did you decide that you would rather work towards a different goal instead?
According to Psychology Today, it can be easy to relapse into your old ways when trying to instate a new goal, so if you do find yourself slipping, “re-assessing is a good strategy for avoiding the sustained frustrations that cause many to abandon hope of success.” If you are falling behind, take a careful look at your current resolution and consider what you might need to change in order to be successful—even if that means making your original goal a bit less ambitious.
2. Revise your plan
Once you’ve identified what might be holding you back, revise your goal. Just because you have to modify your initial plan doesn’t mean you’re failing your resolution—in fact, it may make you more likely to succeed in the long run. By making your plan more achievable, you’ll have a more positive experience and a higher chance of success. If you didn’t use the S.M.A.R.T. goal setting strategy in your first attempt at a resolution, now is the time to give it a try. For your best shot at success, you need your goal to be specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and time-bound. In other words, you need to set a goal that you can keep track of and integrate into your daily schedule for a specific amount of time.
Alternatively, if you already tried the S.M.A.R.T. method, and didn’t have success, Christine L. Carter, Ph.D. of Psychology Today suggests using the WAPPER method instead. To create a revised goal using this method, you’ll need to consider your wants and wishes, actions and circumstances, problems and obstacles, plans, evaluation and measurement, and finally reminders and revisions. This slightly more feeling-based method of goal setting is a good option for those who need a little more motivation for their resolutions.
3. Write down your new resolution
When it comes to achieving goals and resolutions, it can be tempting to keep it all in your head. However, a recent study conducted by Dr. Gail Matthews of Dominican University has found that people “who wrote down their goals and sent weekly updates to a friend had a much higher success rate than those who kept their goals to themselves.” Additionally, a Psychology Today article on writing prompts for goal-setting and success notes that “mindset, strong health, and positive action instigated by writing help us manifest our visions goals, and intentions.” This means that if you write down your resolutions for the new year and future, you can actually help those goals become a reality.
When you do sit down to write your goal, feel free to be as specific as you possibly can. Revisit the SMART and WAPPER methods, and include specific dates, deadlines, and achievement markers along the way. At the very least, creating a physical representation of your goals and progress will allow you to revisit your plan and encourage you when you begin to let your new habits slide.
4. Reset your resolution
Once you’ve finally reassessed, revised and written down your resolution, allow yourself to push the reset button. Don’t beat yourself up for past slip-ups, and give yourself the opportunity to start fresh. Just because you might have to revamp your resolution doesn’t mean you’ve failed to achieve your goal. Actually, by reevaluating your plan, you’re showing dedication to your resolution and giving yourself a better chance of success.
So, whether you’re trying to lose weight, quit a bad habit, or even learn to bake, don’t be afraid to give your New Year’s Resolution a second chance. Just think of it as an experiment of trial and error: if at first you don’t succeed, reevaluate and repeat!