Run a marathon? Eat more vegetables? Finally learn another language? Here at Swell, we’ve seen how New Year’s resolutions can bring out the best in people. No matter who you are, there’s a sense of endless possibility at the bright beginning of a new year. And for many of us, January 1st represents the day we finally get down to the business of self improvement and start checking goals off our lists.
And according to one study in the Journal of Clinical Psychology, those who set New Year’s resolutions are ten times more likely to actually change their behavior than people who don’t make these yearly goals. Did we mention we love New Year’s resolutions?
Unfortunately, New Year’s resolutions aren’t always enough.
Once the ball has dropped and the novelty has worn off, how do you motivate yourself to keep tackling your goals? According to the U.S. News & World Report, over 80% of resolutions fail by February. And even when we do reach our goals, the positive changes don’t always stick. Sure, you might run that marathon in the fall. But what’s the point if you never lace up your shoes after race day?
Instead of letting your New Year’s resolutions fall by the wayside, we’ve got some self improvement strategies to help keep you on track from January 1st to the year’s finish line—and beyond.
Set realistic, attainable goals
It can be tempting to wake up on the first of the year and do a complete overhaul of your—and your family’ s—daily life. But taking on too much at once is the quickest way to fail. This is true whether you’re focusing on nutrition, fitness, productivity, or another hobby or skill.
Instead, focus on one behavior at a time. Even better? Focus on a micro-behavior. Instead of the lofty goal to “eat clean,” start with a small, measurable change, like “Eat a cup of vegetables with each dinner.” By starting small and realistically expanding your goals over time, you’ll be setting yourself up for success.
Track your progress and celebrate every victory
Don’t just plan how you will reach your goals. Plan how you will celebrate them! When you map out your progress milestones—as well as how you’ll reward yourself for reaching them—you’re actively envisioning success. And according to Entrepreneur guest writer Pete Canalichio, that’s one of the first steps to making your wildest dreams a reality.
Plus, a little bit of planning will also help you avoid rewards that derail your success. For example, if you’re trying to eat healthier, having a plan will help you keep away from candy bars when it’s time to celebrate.
Create a support system
Whether you recruit an exercise buddy, tell your family about your decision to eat healthier, or finally sign up for that voice lesson, there are a variety of ways to create a support system. And that support system—whether it’s close friends, an online community, or a professional who can help you attain your goals—will help keep you motivated and on-track.
Resolutions are just the first step.
Self improvement is a year-round endeavor. Whatever you’re setting out to accomplish this year, Swell is here to support your success. And we hope that by this time next year you’ll be marking your New Year’s resolutions ”done” and setting your sights on the next goal.