2023 is flying by. We are already a couple of months into the year which means you’ve had some time to begin work on your new goals for this year.
Maybe you made a goal to get better grades, study more, go on dates, increase your spirituality, eat more nutritious foods, save money, or anything else. According to a survey done by the New York Post, over 67 million American adults set health goals/resolutions at the start of 2021. If that many people are setting health goals alone, think of how many people are setting other resolutions each year.
No matter what your goals were that you set this year (and whether you’re accomplishing them or not), staying motivated can be tricky as you work to accomplish your goals.
New Year's Resolutions Statistics
Did you know that only 9% of people complete their New Year’s resolutions?
To gain some perspective, of the 67 million people that set health resolutions, only about 6 million of them accomplished their goal.
When it comes to resolutions, it is hard to stick by them. The New Year is a natural time of self-reflection and evaluation. It provides a great opportunity to evaluate where you are at and where you want to be. In fact, the demographic of people who set the most New Year’s resolutions are young adults between the ages of 18-34.
But do most people stick to their goals?
Shockingly, on average, about 23% of people quit on their New Year’s Resolutions in just the first week! That is almost 1 in 4 people that quit before January 7th.
Perhaps even more shocking is that only 36% of people who set resolutions even make it past the first month. That means that basically, 2 in 3 people will give up on their goals before February begins.
So, why do so many people even bother to set goals in the first place? And what can you do to be part of the 9% that accomplish their goals?
Turning Your Goals Into a Habit
James Clear, behavioral psychologist and author of the well-known book Atomic Habits, has discussed the art of creating a habit hundreds of times.
One of his pieces of advice when trying to create a new habit is to start with something small. If you create a goal to go to the gym 5 times a week but have never walked in a gym before, you probably aren’t going to last very long on your resolution. But, if you start with the goal of doing one workout a week (whether that is at home or in a gym) it is a lot harder to fail. Setting small goals that you can consistently achieve makes it a lot harder to say no to doing them.
You can also gradually increase these small habits until you are going to the gym 5 times a week.
When working on a new goal and striving to turn a behavior into a habit, the reality is you are going to fail. You will miss days of eating healthy, you won’t always study for as long or as focused as you want, and you may not grow spiritually in the way you wanted every single day.
That is okay. It is okay to miss a day, to slip up, and to fail. When this happens (because it will) don’t beat yourself up. Try your best to never miss twice in a row. If your goal is to study for 30 minutes every day after dinner and you miss Tuesday, you don’t have to do double on Wednesday. Just try to successfully study the 30 minutes on Wednesday and get back on track.
On average, it takes about 66 days before an action becomes a habit. That means in order for your New Year’s resolutions to become a habit you need to consistently perform the behavior until March 8.
How To Stay Motivated To Achieve Your Goals
There are hundreds of ways that people claim that helps them stay motivated to achieve their goals. While these may work for some people, they aren’t going to work for everyone.
Just like when setting goals and creating the habit, staying motivated is very personal. You need to find ways to stay motivated that work for you.
Here are a couple of suggestions for ways to stay motivated to accomplish your goals:
- Write your goal down where you can see it daily
- Adjust your goals to be achievable
- Reflect on the WHY behind your goal
- Surround yourself with people who believe in you
- Visualize your end result
Write Your Goals Down
One of the best ways to be motivated is to write your goal down. Thinking about your goal is a great start, but to a lot of people, the goal becomes more official when you write it down.
After you have written down your resolutions, putting them somewhere you see them every day can help with keeping you motivated.
Especially in the beginning, remembering your goal can be challenging. You get so busy in the routine of school, work, and friends that your goal gets moved to the back burner. By writing your goal down and putting it somewhere you see it every day, you are constantly reminded of what you want to achieve.
Adjust Your Goals To Be Achievable
Setting lofty goals can be tempting. Especially when it is the end of December, you are reflecting on your previous year, and you get in the mood to improve every single aspect of your life.
Unfortunately, after a week of this incredibly lofty goal, you realize it is just not possible. If you find yourself in this situation, it’s hard to stay motivated to accomplish your goal. If you don’t feel like you can’t accomplish your goal, you aren’t going to be able to stay motivated.
Goals should be challenging, but they should also be achievable. A great way to set more achievable goals is to break your lofty goals down into more manageable parts.
Reflect On Your WHY
When setting a goal, you should always have a why behind it. Why do you want to study more? Why do you want to eat healthier? Why do you want to spend more time focused on spirituality?
When writing your goals down, it may be helpful to your motivation if you also write why you set that goal.
When you are having a hard time staying motivated, you can reflect on why and help give yourself the push you need to accomplish the goal.
Surround Yourself With People Who Believe In You
If you find yourself surrounded by people who don’t believe in you or who are negative towards your goals and changes, it can be difficult to keep believing in yourself and following through on your goals.
Positive friends, family, roommates, and mentors can help you stay motivated. The extra accountability of having someone check in on how your goals are coming can also be a motivating factor in achieving your goals. If you have made a goal to exercise 3 times a week and you are meeting your friend at the gym, it is a lot harder to skip going than if you are going by yourself.
Surrounding yourself with positive people can help you keep your motivation and accomplish your goals.
Visualize Your End Result
Stephen Covey, the author of 7 Habits of Highly Successful People, says the second habit that everyone should develop is the ability to “begin with the end in mind.”
When it comes to New Year’s resolutions, goals, and creating habits, this is especially true. Rather than setting the goal to “study for 30 minutes every day,” visualize the result that this will bring you. Maybe this will raise your grade, maybe it will decrease stress around exam weeks, or maybe the result you are looking for is the ability to consistently do something that isn’t the most fun.
No matter what your desired end result is, if you have a result you are trying to achieve, it will be easier to consistently motivate yourself.
With almost 60% of college-aged students setting New Year’s resolutions, it is important to learn how to keep that motivation going into February, March, and the rest of the year.
Motivation is different for everyone, but there are a couple of things that you can do to help yourself accomplish your goals.
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