Let’s face it: New Year’s resolutions are renowned for failure. Studies show that between 50 and 80 percent of these well-intended self-promises are abandoned within months. You’re probably aware that there’s a gym membership spike in January, but did you know that there’s actually a “Fall Off the Wagon Day” (typically in February) when resolutions are notoriously abandoned and fast food restaurants see an uptick in visits?
The biggest reasons for failure include having unrealistic goals, not keeping track of progress, forgetting about resolutions, and making too many resolutions.
So how can you avoid these pitfalls and stay on course with your ultimate goal of self-improvement? Here are four ways to turn 2023 into a year of positive self-transformation.
- Create your personal mantra.
As a more promising alternative to the typical resolution, this year try mindfulness through a mantra. What is a mantra? Derived from two Sanskrit words, “manas” (mind) and “tra” (tool), mantras are typically short statements that are repeated over and over, often to aid in meditation. These mind tools can help us focus on our highest intentions.
Commit to an ideal without strict rules. Manifest good intentions over rigid guidelines, and make sure your mantra is personal and meaningful. The most powerful motivators are intrinsic, based on your deep-rooted values and purpose.
The three most popular New Year’s resolutions from January 1, 2022 can broadly be categorized as living healthier, personal improvement/happiness, and losing weight. If your New Year’s resolution tends to be “I will lose 20 pounds by this summer,” you may find that you fall short of this goal every year.
The premise of this weight loss statement is that you are starting from a place of weakness and are striving to improve. Losing 20 pounds would be great because your clothes might fit better and you may look better. Neither of these are bad things, but quantifying your goal can be a losing proposition. If you lose 14 pounds, that’s great, but technically you’ve failed because you didn’t lose 20.
The more important purpose for losing weight is probably improving your health, so consider focusing on that goal.
By choosing the mantra, “I am healthy” or “I honor my body,” you will start off the year in a position of strength. Internalizing this affirmation may be more effective in the long-term than committing to a number on the scale within a certain number of days.
- Make manageable goals.
There are many ways to honor your body and get healthier. By staying optimistic with a positive, open-ended mantra, you can achieve many small wins in many different ways – not simply by a measurement on a scale.
Create a clear plan, identifying actionable steps. These steps are not resolutions but ways you can commit to your mantra. Here are some examples:
My healthy habits list
- Improve my sleep by:
- Maintaining a schedule of 10 p.m. to 6 a.m.
- Moving the television out of the bedroom.
- Charge the phone at night and use an outlet that is out of reach of the bed.
- Create a relaxing bedtime ritual beginning at 9 p.m.
- Attempt new recipes using more vegetables.
- Snack on fruits and nuts.
- Take the stairs when possible.
- Drink more water.
- Lift weights a few times a week.
- Try yoga.
- Meditate daily.
- Walk more.
- Eat more meals at home.
- Choose healthier restaurant options online before heading to the restaurant.
- Track your wins.
There are so many goal tracking tools at our disposal: apps, calendars, charts, spreadsheets, graphs. Choose one that works for you and be diligent about keeping a record of the ways in which you are fulfilling your mantra.
Be kind to yourself. Don’t beat yourself up or throw in the towel over a lack of wins. Get back up and keep going. Aim for progress, not perfection.
- Reward yourself.
Little rewards along the way can keep you motivated. Here are some healthy reward options:
- Get a massage.
- Buy new athletic wear.
- Eat a delicious (healthy) restaurant meal.
- Explore a new hiking trail.
The bottom line: enjoy this journey toward self-actualization (becoming the best version of yourself). When you stumble, practice self-compassion, and then continue to maximize your potential for a happy new year and a more fulfilling life.