It sometimes surprises me that New Year’s resolutions are still a thing.
It’s an old joke by now that most resolutions don’t last long. Sure, at the beginning of the year, gym memberships spike and there’s a flurry of interest around dieting or charity work. After a few months though, the buzz of those heady resolutions wears off and we start to wonder if they’re really what we wanted at all.
We start to lose our passion when we don’t receive immediate gratification.
And we all love instant gratification, don’t we? We swing the hammer, and the bell dings. We buy an item (on credit or otherwise), and it’s in our hands. We like getting the things we want—I’m no exception to this rule.
I remember spending day after day trying to figure out a life hack for losing baby weight after my first child. Of course, what I figured out—after hours of extensive research and all kinds of failed efforts—is that there’s not really a life hack for losing weight except to put in the hard work of eating right and exercising. I wanted the quick and easy (affordable would be nice too) solution to my problem, and I didn’t want the effort.
So I get it. You are not alone.
New Year’s resolutions tend to run the risk of being like a fad diet: great at first, but not so fabulous in the long run. So how do we take resolutions or life goals and do them in a way that keeps our passion going?
- Make a list.
See what I did? I started my list with a list. I love lists! They keep us organized and help us focus on our goals. A list is a great way to clarify what we want and then to prioritize those goals.
- Start with small steps.
We don’t have to try and achieve our biggest goal all at once. Maybe we want to climb Mount Everest. That’s an admirable goal, but unless we’ve been training, we’re probably not going to climb it tomorrow. But we can start with smaller hikes in our area. We can even do indoor rock climbing. Then we can work toward more ambitious hikes, with the ultimate goal being to climb Everest.
This practice can be applied to most goals. What’s a small and achievable mini goal that can jump-start your progress? Start there.
- Use a reward system.
This is my favorite one because I love to be pampered! Using a reward system keeps us motivated and reminds us why we’re doing the thing we’re doing. Maybe we want to learn Italian, so we work really hard for a certain number of weeks and then treat ourselves to a fancy Italian dinner out. Or we’re working toward a triathlon so we book ourselves a massage at various intervals.
There’s going to be an intrinsic reward for achieving what we’ve set out to do, but we may need to give ourselves smaller rewards along the way.
- Work on multiple goals at once.
There’s some argument against diversifying and dividing our energy, but I think most of us are multi-faceted people capable of balancing multiple goals. It’s okay to take scuba diving classes while also learning to crochet—not at the same time, of course. There’s nothing stopping us from working toward more than one goal at a time, especially if these smaller goals keep us motivated.
- Find a way to stay accountable.
Posting about our plans on social media can keep us accountable because then our goals are public. We can also join groups of other like-minded people who share the same goal, or we can draft a buddy to help us stay on course. It doesn’t hurt to be our own coach either. Hanging up motivational quotes or treating ourselves after a small achievement can be great ways to keep our spirits up.
- Create a vision board.
This might seem like a more visual version of list writing, but creating a vision board can help keep us focused on what we want and why. And it’s simple to do.
We can grab poster board, a bulletin board, or even use our fridge and a few magnets to make it happen. Then print or cut out pictures that align with our goals. Hang it somewhere visible so it serves as a daily reminder of what we’re working toward. My vision board consists of quotes, photographs, and pictures of things I want for my life.
- Allow some flexibility.
Our goals might change. Perhaps we’re working toward completing a marathon and then we hurt our knee. Okay—change of plans. We need to allow ourselves this flexibility.
Maybe we think of a new idea or an old one loses its shine for one reason or another. It’s okay to decide that we don’t want the same things and start working toward the things we do want.
- Find new measures for success other than “winning.”
This is the most important step. We don’t have to finish first in that 5K we signed up for. We don’t have to be the best student in that art class we took. We don’t need to be able to play Bach’s cello suites after a month of lessons.
We need to measure our success in other ways:
Are we learning something new?
Are we getting healthier?
Did we challenge ourselves to do something we’ve never done before?
Are we finding that we have more energy?
Success may not look like doing something “the best” or even all that well. Sometimes, success is finishing the race, even if we’re the last to cross the finish line. Success might be painting an ugly picture but being glad that we expressed what we were feeling on canvas. Maybe success isn’t losing weight, but instead learning that we’re stronger than we thought and can do more than we imagined. Being flexible in how we look at success is another way to keep our passion alive.
Most of us have goals we’d like to achieve. Perhaps they’re career-related or more personal. Perhaps we’d just like to learn something new every day or have certain experiences.
Regardless of the goal, it helps to have a plan, to start with small steps, to reward ourselves along the way, and to find support for reaching our goals. It also helps to visualize what we want, to be flexible when a change needs to be made, and to define success by something other than how we compare to others.
While it may seem tedious at times, it’s important to remember why we started and to keep that passion burning bright.
If no one has told you today, remember:
You are enough.
You can do it.
You are capable of more than you can imagine.
You’ve got this!
Author: Crystal Jackson
Editor: Nicole Cameron
Copy Editor: Callie Rushton
Social Editor: Waylon Lewis