Even if you don’t create new year resolutions, there’s a silent pressure to set goals for yourself. But just like Valentine’s Day shouldn’t be the only time you express your love, January 1st isn’t the only time you can commit to being a better you.
I’m a big fan of getting a messy start on things – your health journey doesn’t have to be perfect, your fitness routine doesn’t need to start on a Monday, and your career advancements don’t need to be aggressive. Instead, I believe in grit and grace. Going after what you want, but letting life unfold the way it’s supposed to at the same time.
In today’s blog I’m covering a few ways you can achieve anything you want without needing to set new year resolutions, and how to get started at any time.
The Pressure of New Year, New You
There’s truth to the idea that it takes 90 days to build a habit. You don’t wake up and decide to be a tennis player. There’s a lot of practice, failure, and more practice that goes into it. The same goes for any new hobby, habit, or title – you need to earn it.
The pressure to become a new version of ourselves each year in a few months, or even a year, is ridiculous. It can take people a lifetime to hit their goals. I don’t say that to discourage anyone, but to actually encourage you to not limit yourself to a timeline. If you truly want to drop a few pant sizes, become a great cook, or learn to paint, then who cares how long it takes?
Resolutions: Do People Actually Stick With Them?
Out of the people that do set resolutions, how many stick to them? One study found only 9-12% of people keep their new year resolutions.  The same study showed about 25% of people drop off or give up within the first week. After one month, the number jumps to 36%.
If you haven’t stuck to your resolutions before, you’re not alone. One of the reasons so many people bail on their plan is because they set unrealistic goals for themselves. They wanted to go a little too big and a little too hard too fast. Which is why I always like to offer bite-sized long-term goals.
Let’s Shift The Focus To Long Term Goals
Bite-sized long-term goals help you set realistic goals on a realistic timeline. For example, if you want to pick up running as a beginner, you shouldn’t sign up for a marathon in February. That would set you up for failure and totally drain your spirit.
Instead, commit to running around the block. Then, twice around the block. After a few days of that, commit to running five streets down. Keep building on your progress and push yourself along the way. It’s better to exceed your expectations rather than continuously fall short of them. In fact, one study showed that creating coping strategies for if or when you fail to meet your goals made a big difference in long-term success.  In other words, if you failed to run five miles by the time you were three months into your program, you could set up a coping strategy to hire a running coach or ask your best runner friend if they would root you on for a few weeks until you hit your goal.
The key to achieving long-term goals, especially when it comes to healthy living goals, is to offer bite-sized pieces and give yourself some grace. You don’t want to burn out and you don’t want to overdo it – especially when it comes to physical activity.
Where To Start & How To Stay Kind To Yourself
Here are five of my go-to tips for creating realistic, long-term goals.
1. Get clear on your goal
Make sure you know exactly what you want to achieve. Losing weight and healthy living may sound like great goal topics, but they’re not clear. Do you want to lose 10 pounds or 20? Do you want to cook at home more or garden more? Write down exactly what it is you plan to accomplish.
2. Give yourself about of month of guidance
Don’t expect to lose 10 pounds in one week, or even one month. Create bite-sized goals each week that get you closer to it. Maybe week one you give up sugar, week two you try a new class at the gym, and so on. After about a month, assess how your goals went and then create the next month’s goals. Continue to level up and stay within reach at the same time.
3. Regroup when necessary
If you find you’re in over your head by week two of your running plan, regroup. Don’t be afraid to step back and say, “If I want to be successful in this, I need to revise my plan.” If running around the block is too much, start by walking. Be so committed to your goals that you’re not too proud to take it slow. Regroup when necessary.
4. Track your progress
Create a way to show how far you’ve come. Maybe it’s with a sticker board, an excel sheet, or progress photos – whatever works for you. You want to have a tangible way to view your process and how much you’ve accomplished. This tool will be just as useful to look at on your good days as it will on your hard days.
5. Reward yourself
Don’t forget to give yourself a pat on the back every once in a while. Just because you haven’t run a marathon yet doesn’t mean you haven’t made progress. If you went from having dessert every day to once a week, that’s a huge accomplishment! Shout yourself out for it.