Words by Kathy Iandoli

A recent poll found that 45% of Americans make New Year’s Resolutions, yet only 8% of Americans actually reach the goals of the resolutions they set forth.
 Of those resolutions, there are plans for self-betterment (diets/exercise), getting organized, curbing their personal spending, and expanding on their personal lives (romantic and otherwise). You may have set these goals for yourself at one point or another and called them New Year’s Resolutions, hitting that reset button on January 1st and expecting the shift to be dramatic.

Once you didn’t reach your goals within the amount of time that you deemed acceptable, you may have fallen off whatever wagon. It’s natural. It’s the reason why the first week of every January shows a packed gym, but by the next week it’s back to empty. Resolutions and goals are not mutually exclusive, and titling them all under an umbrella of “resolutions” creates a level of anxiety that some find more daunting than inspiring. With only 75% of Americans keeping their resolutions within the first week, a bit of reality can settle in. Bottom line, it doesn’t have to be this way. There are ways to reach your goals for the upcoming year and stick to them. Here are some tips for New Year’s Non-Resolutions.

1. Start Before January 1st.

Have plans to hit the gym again? Want to quit smoking? Try starting before the new year arrives. Get that head start so you’ll iron out any growing pains from setting your new goals and how they may affect your lifestyle. Even holiday binging could use a few days in between at the gym to start that fitness routine early. Plus, the anxiety of resetting on January 1st automatically disappears when you start early.

2. Take Your Time

Most people set New Year’s Resolutions to make a hard switch on the top of the new year. If it’s a diet, it goes from holiday cookies to kale. There’s no need to go cold turkey (pun intended) when it comes to certain changes like diet and exercise. Make small changes to your everyday routine and grow stricter each week. It won’t feel so severe and lead to falling back into bad routines.

3. Understand That Habits Aren’t Immediate

We’ve read a variety of articles where calculations of actions take X number of days or weeks or months before becoming a habit. For the most part, it can take over two months for processes to be habitual. Therefore, expecting your life to automatically change in a week is already setting yourself up for defeat.

4. Create A Journal

Keep track of all of your goals. Start a new notebook, writing everything by hand so it feels real. Make lists. Write down key dates, journal your progress. Once you see the goals laid out, including achievements and failures, you’ll have a better time keeping track and actually making them happen.

5. Set Milestones

Smaller goals within goals can help you achieve the larger ones. If you’re trying to cut your budget, make small goals i.e. eating out one less day a week. If you’d like to find love, set a small goal of going on one date a week. If you’d like to improve your fitness, add a few days of walking or bike riding to your week to start. Smaller goals are more reachable, and can inspire you to keep going. Before you know it, the end of the year has come, goals have been reached, and you didn’t even need a resolution.