Even with the best will in the world, it can be a challenge to make your new year’s resolutions stick. The good news is that there are proven, practical strategies you can use to keep yourself on track.
Tis the season for resolutions, and we’re all fizzing with possibility and promise as the year begins. Will 2017 finally be the year we carve out those abs, learn a new skill, climb that career ladder, or work on our overall happiness? Whatever worthwhile and amazing goals we set for ourselves this year, there are some simple steps we can take to help us to actually achieve them.
1: Keep it real
There’s a big difference between a goal and a fantasy. You might not transform from a couch potato to a marathon runner within the week – but perhaps you could handle jogging. Becoming the next Mark Zuckerberg might not be realistic – but if you’re technically minded, you could develop your own app. There happens to be a fantastic opportunity right now to enrol on a free, level 8 ICT course at National College of Ireland - regardless of your employment status.
2. Own it.
There’s something about the acts of putting pen to paper, and saying things out loud, that just makes goals more real. Instead of vague mental vows, write down your resolutions, and share your aspirations with your family and friends. Keep your list somewhere you can find – and read – it often.
3. Break it up
So we’ve set our realistic goals, and we’ve broadcast our ambitions to the world. Now what? It’s time to put an action plan in place that will set out, step by step, how we plan to keep on track. Want to get fit in 2016? Joining – and attending – the local gym might help. Determined to progress in your career? What steps do you need to take to get there? If you need to upskill or gain a qualification, put those plans in place – attend a college open day and talk about your options. NCI has two in January, so there’s no need to put it off. Break up each resolution into a set of smaller goals and deadlines.
4: One thing at a time
The first week in January is probably not the best time to lose three stone, cut carbs, sugar and dairy and put in an extra hour a day at the office, while spending more time with our families and friends. Despite our best intentions, we have limited willpower, we’re not great multi-taskers and are far more effective when we focus on one thing at a time. Keep things manageable by focusing on one resolution at a time, and making small changes gradually to help you reach your goal.
5. Treat Yo'self!
Life is all about balance. If your new schedule is too punishing, or bores you senseless, your chances of sticking with it could go out the window. Instead, try to make it fun. You know those smaller goals and deadlines that you set? Celebrate each one. Keep a list of all the things you’re proud of. And invest in the new you: if you’re hitting the gym, then get yourself some gym swag. If you’re headed back to the classroom, some fancy stationery and pens can make a big difference to your study motivation.
6. Keep track, to keep ON track
Refer back to your list on the regular and check in with how you’re doing against your deadlines. If you need to change your plan, then do it – and don’t beat yourself up. Even the strongest willed of us can suddenly run out of steam; if that happens to you, just don’t throw in the towel. Reflect on your list of achievements, congratulate yourself for what you’ve done so far, and tweak your plans so that you can get back on track. Consider seeking out support to help you reach your goal.
If education features on your list of new year's resolutions, NCI can help. Come to a January Open Evening to find out about the courses NCI is running in early 2017 or read our post about why you should start your studies in January.