It’s exciting to start fresh on Jan 1 as you get to work on moving yourself toward some great goals. Weeks later, however, those ambitious New Year’s resolutions you originally made might be looking a lot more challenging and a lot less exciting than they did when you first set out to start them.
Whether you found yourself running out of steam as you tried to move forward or resorted to putting your resolutions on hold as a result of distraction or other priorities, it’s never too late to hit the restart button. The struggle is an important part of the learning process, so if this past January just didn’t work out the way you wanted it to, you at least now have valuable experience that you can use as feedback for recommitting in a way that better suits you.
When you do decide that you’re ready to recommit to your New Year’s resolutions, consider following these simple steps to help maximize your chances of long-term success.
1. Reflect on your journey.
It would be a mistake to try and pick up where you left off on your New Year’s resolutions without taking an honest look back at everything that you went through since you got started. It may be unpleasant, because it forces you to bring your mistakes and shortcomings into your awareness, but without doing so, you risk the chance of repeating them.
2. Accept what happened.
Make peace with the past by realizing that you’re only human and that you’re now wiser and stronger after going through whatever happened. Engage in compassionate, positive self-talk the same way you’d talk to a close friend or family member who came to you for support and advice about something they were struggling with.
3. Forgive yourself.
Recommitting to any type of goal after veering off course can’t happen without first accepting that it happened and then learning to genuinely forgive yourself for it. Beating yourself up for what you could have achieved if you just stuck with it is no way to regain motivation.
4. Identify what went wrong.
People often fall off the New Year’s resolution wagon early because they tried to make and sustain habits that were too big, they didn’t make the progress they wanted fast enough or they didn’t know how to adapt to unexpected events. Whatever happened in your own life that threw you off track, make sure you can identify it and that you know why it caused you to react the way that you did.
5. Make the necessary adjustments to your process.
Using what you identified in the last step, adjust your habits or action plan accordingly so that you don’t get thrown off track again by the same obstacles, events or way of thinking. This step may be difficult if you’re super hung up on getting those results, but dialling it down a little or even a lot is worth it in the long run if it means it will be less torturous and more sustainable.
6. Make even more adjustments to put your process in line with what you enjoy.
The real key to long-term success doesn’t necessarily rely in the mechanics of working toward your goals — it lies in what you genuinely enjoy about it, because that’s what makes it stick. Find ways to make your habits or action plan a joy to practice or work toward by integrating things you already know you love and would do just for the sake of doing them.
7. Maintain an open, curious mindset that is focused more on learning than on achieving.
Even when you recommit to your New Year’s resolutions by making constructive adjustments, obstacles may still get in your way, and setbacks may still happen. Instead of fixating on the results you want so badly, embrace the unpredictable and uncontrollable reality of life by becoming a curious student of the process. You’ll become better at adapting to whatever obstacles may be thrown in your way and you’ll become more resilient by dealing with them than you would if you maintained a more rigid, results-oriented mindset.
Remember that you can recommit to a New Year’s resolution any time of year whether it’s the end of January, the middle of the summer or the day after Labor Day. The date doesn’t really matter — all that matters is your desire to make it happen.