In January, you’re excited to tackle your goals—eager for the fresh start of the new year. But by February, many people have already fallen off track with their New Year’s resolutions. The key, says best-selling author Jairek Robbins, isn’t to give up or be upset that you don’t have a perfect score for the year thus far. Instead, focus on making 10 feet of progress each day. Start with these tips.
Take it one day at a time.
Focus on what you can do today to move closer to your goals. Rather than worrying about what you may have done wrong in the past, instead laser in on what might go right in the future.
Allow yourself to be human.
We all slip up sometimes, and that’s OK—just don’t let it turn into a habit that will keep you from reaching your goals. Each time you slide off track, immediately do two quick actions that get you back on track: one step back, two quick steps forward.
Don’t dwell on the past.
Focus on making progress each day from now on. Take the hand you were dealt and find a way to win the day with it. Consider the emotions you’re feeling and how that reflects where your focus lies:
- Upset = You’re focused on the past, especially things that turned out badly for which you cannot do anything to change now. This leads to feelings of helplessness.
- Happy/Content = You’re focused on the present moment, especially people, situations and things that you are grateful for.
- Excited/Driven = You’re focused on the future, especially the best possible outcomes coming to fruition.
Chunk it out.
Break your resolutions down into smaller, more manageable goals to make it easier to stay on track. We call these mile markers. You wouldn’t run an entire marathon in one go. Focus on getting to mile one, then to mile two, etc., until you’ve crossed the finish line.
Build accountability into your routine.
Find a support group or friend who can help keep you accountable and on track. Research shows that people who join the gym with a partner are more likely to keep going and stay consistent vs. those who go by themselves.
Don’t overdo it.
Set realistic deadlines for yourself, and don’t try to accomplish too much at once. Over-optimism can cause you to be late not just to your lunch meeting but to your goals too.
Be your own cheerleader.
Celebrate each accomplishment, no matter how small it seems, as a way of building your confidence and momentum. Reward yourself for staying on track to ensure you don’t give up. Intrinsic vs. extrinsic rewards make a big difference.
Own your why.
Remember why you are doing this when you feel like quitting. Focus on the benefits of having good habits. This acts as emotional rocket fuel: When you mentally rehearse the reasons you set this goal, you inject fuel into your motivation muscle, which drives you into motion. Stack that feeling by making it a routine.
Build a support system.
Find someone who will encourage you to keep trying when you want to give up. We could all use a coach or BFF that inspires us when we are down and challenges us to be more.
Mark your progress.
Those who don’t want to measure don’t want to be held accountable. Take a step back and analyze your progress periodically to see where you may need to adjust your strategy. It’s essential to be flexible and change course when necessary to reach our goals.
This article first appeared in the March/April 2022 issue of SUCCESS magazine. Photo by @a.s.konoplya/Twenty20