Restarting (or Starting!) Your New Year’s Resolutions

February is over. For some, that might mean you’re two months into achieving the goals you set at the beginning of 2021. For others, February coming to a close might be discouraging because you’ve fallen off the motivation train a little bit. Not to worry. It’s never too late in the year to start (or restart) a New Year’s resolution. After all, the best time to start working toward your goals is always today! Whether your goal is a financial goal (like paying off credit card or student loan debt, saving for a house, car, wedding, etc.) or health-related (physical or mental), check out the tips below to reframe your mindset to chip away at your resolutions!

First, take a minute to reflect on the last couple of months. How did work on your goals go initially? Identify what it was that made you want to start in the first place, and what kept you motivated in the beginning stages. Next, identify why you stopped, and understand that slip-ups do not predict failure. Failure and mistakes are all part of the process and are unavoidable most of the time. Instead of letting slip-ups discourage you, use them as a growth opportunity. Adjust your mindset and environment to avoid making the same mistake twice. Many of us are programmed to become discouraged by mistakes. If we can take mistakes for what they are, learn from them, and move on, they end up being some of the most valuable lessons we can learn.

As you reframe your mindset, think about how you approached your goals to begin with. Did you start with small steps, or try to make big changes right from the beginning? A recent podcast featured a successful real estate investor. The topic was steps you can take to get started on your goals. Many people don’t reach their goals because they look at the full picture, start thinking about every detail of how to reach that goal, and quickly become overwhelmed. The interviewee used an insightful analogy. He compared the goals that we set to eating an entire watermelon. It’s impossible to swallow an entire watermelon at once. Our bodies are not designed to do that. The best approach if you’re wanting to eat an entire watermelon is to take it one bite at a time.

Our goals should be the same way. Small changes that we make and follow through with consistently add up to big changes in the long run. For example, start by resolving to save $10 more per month toward your goal. If you save more than that, great! If not, you’re still $10 closer than you were last month. Progress is progress. Focusing on smaller intermediate steps can allow us to tune into the less noticeable, more immediate results that we might overlook if our attention is only on the end result. Those immediate results, while small, can encourage us to keep going.

One last tip I’ll close with:  Be intentional every single day. I’m guilty of falling into the trap of “just this one time won’t make a big difference.” For me, it’s easiest to fall into this trap with my physical fitness goals. I’ll think to myself, “Well, just skipping this one workout won’t make a difference.” Maybe that’s true, but, in reality, it’s hardly ever just skipping one workout. Before you know it, you’ve used that excuse multiple times, and it’s made a big difference. Discipline yourself to take a mental inventory whenever you begin drifting into “just this one time” territory.”  For me, that inventory begins with “Is there anything physically preventing me from working out?”  Unless I’m injured, the answer is almost always “no.”  Then I ask “How will you feel if you complete the workout, and how will you feel if you skip?”  Working out always energizes me, so I must admit to myself that I’ll feel better if I attend the workout.  Often—not always—that interior monologue helps steer my car to the gym.

Don’t be discouraged if you’ve lost traction in reaching your goals for this year! It’s never too late to start.  Being more mindful about what has worked for you, and what hasn’t, is a great first step.

~Hannah Bartlett