UPDATE: This post is written by Calhoun County Insight. Learn more at: http://calhouncountyinsight.com
There’s no shortage of annual traditions in American society, from setting off fireworks on the Fourth of July to untagging ourselves in Facebook posts the day after St. Patrick’s Day before anyone sees what we did (for shame!). Of all our traditions, few are as noble as the New Year’s Resolution, our yearly declaration to do something we don’t already do, to stop doing something we wish we didn’t, to be the kind of person we are when we imagine the best versions of ourselves. They’re beautiful, in a way, especially for something that lends to absolute panic as we confront the concept of change.
Thankfully, there are ways to get what you want, and most are easier than you think. Check it out:
Aim for the short term
Some people climb mountains, but if you ask any of them how they do it, they’ll tell you that they’re taking those peaks one foot at a time, from the base to the summit (or they’re lying, or they used a helicopter). The same principle holds for any goal, whether you’re giving up smoking, losing weight, committing to spending more time with family or deciding that you’re going to get a new job. Don’t decide to lose 100 pounds; decide to go to the gym a few times a week. Don’t decide to win Father of the Year; plan a trip for ice cream every Tuesday. Small steps are easy to take, but they make up the entire journey. Don’t count them out.
Tell someone what you’re doing
It’s not exactly a new tactic, but you’re missing out on a great motivator if you don’t let someone know your goals and how you plan to achieve them. Not only do you feel good for getting encouragement in the short term and reaffirming your plan, but you’re establishing accountability for yourself and creating more motivation to stick to your goal. Creating consequences for straying can help keep you on the path.
Pick one thing
Make a list of every perfect person you know and tell them they’re perfect, then watch them shrink up before confessing that they’re a mess, too. Everybody has problems, all of us want to fix something about ourselves and seldom is there only one change we want to make. Thing is, change is hard, which is why hardly anybody does it, and overloading the system with a laundry list of adjustments will likely leave you discouraged enough to abandon all of your goals. Pick something you can get started and save the next crisis for the next year.
Use tech to help
Back in the dark ages before smartphones and laptops, our ancestors had to remember the tasks they had to complete to achieve their goals, and figure when to do them by sundial. Thankfully, we as a society have a million things that can remind us what we’re trying to do. Set reminders on your cell phone for tasks that need completing and put events on your calendar. The human condition is one of constant procrastination, and we need all the pushes we can get to start moving.
Also, be sure to look for applications specifically built to help with what you’re trying to achieve. Apps exist for nearly every kind of self improvement, from fitness to finances, and for more abstract concepts that don’t work with spreadsheets and schedules, simply keeping a journal of what you’re doing can help, too.
Do it for you
Yeah, it’s that time of year and resolutions are what people do. But there’s no point in making a resolution if it isn’t something you really want. Don’t decide to change yourself because the world says you should, and don’t do it for superficial reasons. This is about deciding to be the person you want to be, declaring that you’re going to make it happen and having the gall and gumption to walk that path no matter what. You can do it, so get started.