If you want to achieve your New Year’s resolutions, start doing this now

Why do New Year’s Resolutions fail? Mainly, because they are only a statement, or what we wish for in the coming year. There are usually no action plans, no deadlines, no backup plans. Sometimes they are unrealistic resolutions, with no other thought or plans beside the statement. 

CATHERINE PULSIFER

Many resolutions are merely statements or wishes. We make declarations, but by the time it’s March, we fall back to the same patterns and habits we had the year before. We become unmotivated and somewhat discouraged that another year went by and we didn’t accomplish what we set out to accomplish. This prevents us from achieving our goals and making our dreams a reality.

So, how do we meet our New Year’s resolutions? How do we change our perspective and mindset so that our resolutions can actually improve our lifestyles and help us change for the better?

The definition of resolution is a firm decision to do or not to do something or the quality of being determined or resolute. With New Year’s resolutions, I like to look at these two definitions in a combined statement. It sounds like this: a firm decision to do or not do something with the quality of being determined in that decision. Not only does this motivate me to make things happen, but it reminds me I need to stay committed to my resolutions.

Most people never meet their New Year’s Resolutions because they:

  • Live by the calendar
  • Live by their feelings
  • Live in hesitation
  • Lack committment
  • Lack responsibility
  • Lack ownership

That’s why most resolutions turn out to be mere wishes and statements.

When we live by the calendar, it’s easier to procrastinate and repeat behavior that sets us back. For example, if a person hates Mondays, they get used to the feelings that come with that hatred on Mondays and repeat that behavior routinely. Overtime, their behavior and attitude flows out of them naturally and it gets harder to stay positive on any future Monday. Any repeated behavior turns into a habit.

With procrastination, people who live by the calendar put things off repeatedly because they feel like they’ll have more time later. In reality, they could’ve had it done by now (whatever “it” is) and further along in their resolutions. Our calendars should help us keep track of the days and remind us of important events and holidays, not become an excuse for behavior and procrastination.

Another instance is that many believe they’ll get motivated and committed to their goals when January actually comes. But then, January actually comes, and nothing happens. They wait for inspiration to come, but the longer they wait, the more they hesitate. The more people hesitate, the less responsible they feel. This is what it looks like living by feelings.

Living by our feelings will lead us to eventually lack discipline, order, and responsibility for our own lives. If we live however we please and only by our feelings, we will not be very happy. Our feelings are fickle. We can change our interests and desires within seconds, so it’s important to implement action plans, deadlines, and backup plans.

But before we get into that, I want to say that the deal-breaker is our mindset. If we keep putting off our resolutions for tomorrow, January first, or next Monday, then we’re relying on the calendar and our feelings. The truth is that we can’t plan on how we’ll feel then. We don’t know if tomorrow will come. So, we must work with what have today.

There’s another great quote by Georgina Bloomberg, which says I don’t believe in New Year’s resolutions. I think if you want to change something, change it today and don’t wait until the New Year. If you want to achieve your New Year’s resolutions, you must do something today to practice commitment. You can turn commitment into a habit. Any repeated behavior turns into a habit.

The best place to start is in your evening and morning routines before the New Year comes. Ideally, one to three months before the current year ends. The point is to establish intentional routines that set you up for success and help you practice commitment for your firm decisions to do or not do something with the quality of being determined in those decisions.

No matter what your day looks like currently, there are a series of habits that you already do repeatedly. You might not even notice some of these habits because they’ve been part of your daily system for so long. But if you want to achieve your New Year’s resolutions, establish the following routines in your daily life today.

Don’t look at resolutions as something to do in the distant future. Work on changing your mindset towards your routines today because routines act like systems for you. And systems protect you from you.

Evening routine

The first one is your evening routine. Evening routines are the easiest to establish because we already have a winding-down process. For most people, that’s looking at their phones or watching television until they fall asleep.

Research shows that phones are the one object we’re in constant contact with all day, and even more in the evenings. Our phones are a dopamine-source. Doom scrolling is addictive. Watching television when you can’t fall asleep also seems helpful. But when we overly pacify ourselves with our phones or television, we rob ourselves of the desire to get the same dopamine response to natural and healthy things in life. Things like eating nutritious foods, sex, exercise, and socializing. These things become less interesting because phones provide a quicker dopamine-hit.

Along with this dopamine-information, it’s important to note that the blue light in our phones and other devices is harmful to our eyes. Blue light restrains the production of melatonin, which is the hormone that controls your sleep-wake cycle. Yet, even with this information, we still rely on our technology devices as lullabies.

When we have intentional evening routines, we set ourselves up to improve our overall wellbeing. Not only does it give us a good night’s sleep, but it enhances our physical, mental, and emotional health. Good sleep just makes us feel better, and if that’s not a good enough reason, I don’t know what is.

Here’s what you can do starting tonight!

  • Go to bed one hour earlier than usual: just think about it. If you go to bed one hour earlier today, you will most likely feel better tomorrow morning.
  • Turn electronics off one hour before bed: this means that two hours before you sleep, you have put away all technology. Put it on Do Not Disturb mode until your alarm goes off the next morning. You might have separation anxiety at first, but that’s why this next step is important.
  • Do something in place of using technology: your brain is most creative in the mornings and most analytical in the evenings. Exercise your analytical muscles by reading, writing, working on a puzzle, setting goals, or spending intentional time with family.
  • Practice gratitude: take some time to reflect on what and who you’re grateful for.
  • Think, imagine, & meditate: relax your inner tensions from the day’s stresses. Your mind and body were at work all day. Direct your thoughts to “unwind” and let yourself imagine something new. Breathe deeply. Meditate on the goodness and mercy of God, etc.

Morning routine

The second one is a morning routine. Everyone has a morning routine despite what the specifics look like. We will focus on and do what matters to us the most before heading out the door. An intentional morning routine will set you up for success. It is more challenging to establish a morning routine, that’s why evening routines are important (and easier) to establish.

When you develop healthy and intentional habits in your morning routine, you’ll not only feel successful and accomplished, but you’ll also become successful and accomplished. Mornings have been a little stereotyped. It’s as if you must be a “morning person” to like mornings, but that isn’t true!

An intentional morning routine can be as simple as making your bed, meditating for five minutes, and writing down one goal you have for the day. The point is to do what is most helpful to you. Once you’ve established your evening routine, start establishing an intentional morning routine. Everyone’s morning routine will look different, but the key is intentionality and commitment.

Here’s what you can for your morning routines!

  • Rise early: if possible, around or before sunrise
  • Move around: stretch, exercise, workout. Place your alarm across the room so you have to get out of bed to turn it off. Right after turning it off, start stretching. Next, include exercise before you officially start your day. If you prefer to work out in the evening, make that part of your evening routine.
  • Hydrate yourself: drink water as soon as possible, then go wash up or shower.
  • Accomplish one task: one task as simple as making your bed will motivate you to stay productive.
  • Meditate: take a moment to sit still, even if it’s for five minutes. Breathe deep and connect with yourself and God.
  • Nourish your body: eat breakfast (whether a full meal or an apple). This helps your brain and mind, your gut and metabolism, and your overall energy.
  • Create something: mornings are the peak-time for creativity. Plan your day, work on a project, “eat the frog,” etc.

Daily goals & wins

Finally, a daily goal is something to do in your morning or evening routine, or both! This is very important because it will get you into the habit of achieving smaller goals daily. When we approach the New Year, daily goals help prepare us to establish resolutions which are our firm decisions to do or not do something with the quality of being determined in those decisions.

Setting daily goals might seem like a bit much, especially for someone who is trying to nail their routines down. But the purpose isn’t to set such big goals to overwhelm ourselves and fall behind, but rather to create small goals that will help us get familiar with ourselves and the life we truly want to live. Daily goals can look like establishing an evening routine that works or making the bed in the morning. They can repeat, too. It doesn’t have to be intense, but rather something that is a “win” in our eyes.

Whether you make it part of your evening or morning routine, set a daily small goal so that you can experience a daily win. Here are some examples:

  • establish an evening/morning routine
  • make the bed
  • drink enough water
  • go to bed on time
  • go on a walk
  • call a friend
  • read/study the Bible
  • meditate for five minutes

Conclusion

If you want to achieve your New Year’s resolutions, start doing this today: establish evening and morning routines and set daily goals. By the time the New Year comes, you’ll be closer to living in the lifestyle you want and ready to achieve bigger goals and resolutions. You’ll be in the habit of repeating behavior that sets you up for success.

As you establish your evening and morning routines and begin setting daily goals, I encourage you to spend time in prayer and meditation about what God’s will is for you as well. It’s important to understand that no matter how much we plan, we must still yield to God and trust Him to direct our steps. Consider Proverbs 16:9, which says the heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps.

When establishing routines and setting goals, we can do it with God!

Stay tuned for next week’s blog post and my upcoming newsletter!

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