In the thick of the holiday season, it's easy to make promises to yourself about the New Year. In January, I'll eat healthily / stop smoking / cut back on drinking / exercise regularly / start studying for that qualification …
Some experts might tell you to get started on your goals straight away ("there's no time like the present!") – but that's not necessarily realistic advice. If you know that December is going to be hectic, you don't want to set yourself up for failure.
So, instead of making a start on your big goal right now, here are three things you can do to make your New Year's resolution much more likely to succeed.
#1: Decide What You Want to AccomplishThis might seem like a very basic step – but we don't always follow it.
Rather than figuring out your goals on December 31st, start considering them now. Don't pick too many things, either: one big goal or two – three smaller ones will be much more likely to succeed than a dozen self-improvement projects.
If you're struggling to decide, write down all your possible goals and ask yourself which of these would make the biggest difference to my life?
#2: Ask for Gifts That Will HelpOnce you've picked a goal (or a couple), you've almost certainly got a few potential items to put on your Christmas list.
For instance, if your goal is "lose 50lbs", you might want:
- Recipe books with healthy, low-fat meals
- A subscription to a health/fitness magazine
- Sports kit (comfy workout clothes, trainers)
- Sports equipment (exercise machine) – or gym membership
- Some yummy but healthy snacks
#3: Pave the Way with Small StepsYou might not want to begin outright just yet, but you can still take some small steps towards your goal. For instance:
- If you want to exercise more, check out local gyms during December (when things are quieter!) rather than in January.
- If you want to get a new qualification or learn a new skill, look into courses and fees. If you want to start on a course in January, you may need to sign up several weeks before.
- If you want to write a book, set aside a space in your home and get any necessary supplies (e.g. index cards for planning, a spare USB pen for backing up your work).
Right now, you can gather information, look into different options and decide how best to move forward. Don't wait until January – otherwise you might end up dithering for weeks, without starting on your goal.
Depending on your resolution, you might need to avoid backsliding before January 1st. If you want to lose weight next year, for instance, it's clearly not a great idea to gorge during December: finding that you need to lose 60lbs not 50lbs isn't going to make for a good start to January!
All of these steps are simple and don't need to take up much time – but they could make the difference between success and failure next year. Which of them could you do today?
If you've got another tip to add to this list, let us know your thoughts in the comments!