Some things never change. For instance, I will never stop exclaiming every time I see a pug or tripping over my own feet (almost exclusively when someone is around to see it happen). But, as much as we value stability, we humans also crave change.
It makes sense.
After all, if we had never changed, we would still be fiddling with sticks instead of smartphones, and no one would have yet invented cheesecake, Netflix, or other things central to the fabric of modern life. It’s this need for evolution that prompts millions of us to set New Years’ resolutions each December. It’s a fantastic concept in theory.
A new calendar year is a perfect opportunity to turn the page and pen a new, improved chapter. Unfortunately, according to statistics so sober they’ll kill your NYE buzz before your first glass of champagne, about 80% of us fail (many by February, no less). The good news is failure is not inevitable. Here are a few practical tips to help you achieve those New Year’s goals in 2021.
8 Tips to Keep Your New Year’s Resolution in 2021
Keep It Simple
With the “New Year, New You” mantra popping up everywhere from Instagram to the office décor, you might feel a tad bit of pressure to overhaul everything at once. Resist, take a step back, and consider what simple, realistic goal you can set to improve yourself and your life in 2021. The American Psychological Association (APA) suggests choosing just one objective at a time for the best chance of success.
It isn’t easy to do your best on a project if you don’t have a clear objective in mind. Consider the mire you’d be in if you just decided to be a “business owner” with no idea what kind of business you wanted to start. Resolving to “be more productive” or “get in shape” is far too ambiguous. Instead, choose a specific goal. For instance, consider setting your sights on running a mini-marathon or losing 15 pounds.
Break It Down
It’s good to aim high. But if you try to take on too much at once, you could end up stressed, overwhelmed, and discouraged. To avoid burning out and derailing your progress, break big goals down into small, manageable increments.
For example, if you want to lose 30 pounds in 2021, set a goal for yourself to lose 2-3 pounds per month. Determine the steps you can take day by day and week by week to meet these smaller goals, like incorporating more fruits and vegetables into your diet and working out three or four times a week. Achieving each small goal can boost confidence and willpower, giving you more stamina to realize your master plan.
When someone says they’re “playing devil’s advocate,” there’s usually about a 50% chance they’re actually just a terrible person trying to avoid judgment for whatever cringe-worthy thing they’re saying. However, when setting New Year’s resolutions, you might need to play devil’s advocate with yourself. Specifically, make a list of all the reasons you should not do what you’re setting out to do. Most of us are guilty of giving up once in a while. And we’re usually quick to come up with a reason (read: excuse) as to why. Listing these excuses ahead of time can help us determine how to overcome them.
Until we recognize why we’re having such a hard time breaking our bad habits, we won’t be able to kick them. Being self-aware isn’t easy, and sometimes it’s not fun either. But the payoff is well worth it.
WOOP It Up
Our next tip goes hand-in-hand with the last one; we won’t just leave you hanging on a philosophical limb.
German researcher and founder of the WOOP (Wish, Outcome, Obstacle, Plan) strategy Gabriele Oettingen, is one of the world’s leading researchers on motivation. Her method of aspiration realization, backed by 20 years of scientific research, involves mental contrasting. You can read all about it here. But the gist is you need to imagine where you want to be, take an honest look at where you are now in contrast, consider the obstacles that could stand in the way of you reaching your goals, and then make a detailed, realistic plan to achieve your goals.
The WOOP strategy requires taking an honest look at the things you are doing that might be standing in your way, as well as outside factors beyond your control. It also helps us realize that, even if we don’t ultimately grab the gold, working hard and getting silver is a lot better than sitting on the sidelines and achieving nothing.
There’s no shame in asking for help, whether from friends and family or a professional coach or counselor. Talk to people about what you’re trying to achieve and why. Merely expressing your desires and plan can help to solidify them in your mind. It can also help keep you accountable.
Build an Arsenal for Success
While you can, and should, tap into your human support network, there are plenty of other types of resources that can help you on your journey too.
A couple of tech-based options to consider are Remente and Headspace for overall well-being and mental health, respectively. There’s also Forest, one of our favorites to enhance productivity. Grid Diary is excellent if you’re looking to be an all-around better person (we know that’s vague, but check it out), and FollowMyHealth and MyFitnessPal for fitness-related objectives. Mint and Debt Free or Debt Payoff Planner are useful for financial wellness.
Certain supplements, such as vitamin D, L-theanine, 5-HTP, and CBD, can also help you to reach your goals.
CBD is probably the most multifaceted of the bunch. Among its several scientifically proven benefits, it can support good focus and stable energy levels, a well-functioning immune system, healthy sleep cycles, balanced emotions, a healthy appetite, and measured inflammatory response and pain sensation. To help you reach your goals in the new year, Bespoke’s Active and Recovery products are specifically formulated to help you make the most of your workouts and minimize downtime. Check them out here.
Be Kind to Yourself
As Alejandro Jodorowsky said in the film El Topo, “too much perfection is a mistake.” No one is perfect, nor should they be! Our imperfections make us human. Practice self-compassion and remember that a misstep is not a failure. You’re bound to have a few slip-ups. It’s a part of the process. When this happens, keep in mind beating yourself up isn’t productive. Learning from your mistakes is.
On a similar note, experts recommend treating yourself when things do go well. Put rewards into the planning process. This doesn’t mean having a crazy no-holds-barred cheat day after a week of healthy eating. But it might mean enjoying a couple of slices of pizza Saturday night, guilt-free. Or, you might plan for a weekend getaway once you complete a major work project.
Happy New Year! From your friends at Bespoke!