It’s that time of year, when winter seems to have dragged for slightly too long and your New Year’s Resolutions have become a distant memory. That enthusiasm and new-year-vigour you felt at the start of January has slowly faded, only to be replaced by an acceptance that maybe your old self isn’t so bad after all.
Sound familiar? You might not be surprised to learn that only 24% of Brits actually stuck to their resolutions in 2018. There’s even a day dedicated to the art of quitting (‘National Ditch New Year’s Resolutions Day’ was on the 17th January, in case you missed it.)
But spring is just around the corner, so it’s the perfect time to blow the dust off those resolutions and get back on the horse (or whatever other hobby you resolved to take up). With a little help from ClearScore, get back on track in no time by following these simple tips.
First things first: remind yourself of your resolution(s)
Start by writing down your ambitions for 2020 again so you have a concrete list to refer back to. This is a great time to refresh your resolutions - if some of them no longer feel important or relevant, cross them off your list or replace them with new ones. There’s no point committing yourself to a host of things you’re not passionate about, when you could better focus your time and energy on a few.
Our tips for getting back on track
1. Remember the ‘why’ rather than the ‘what’
Too many people forget the reasons they made resolutions in the first place, causing them to give up before they’ve made a dent in their targets. The ‘why’ is the ultimate driving force and should motivate you to push forward with your goals.
Constantly reminding yourself why you decided to make these changes should put you back in the right headspace to succeed. Try to visualise what success will look like for you - how will it make you feel? How will it change your life for the better? Try these 5 steps to visualisation if you need some guidance.
Attaching emotions and positive feelings to your goal will make it easier to remember what’s waiting for you at the finish line. If you’re saving up for the holiday of a lifetime, for instance, why not set a photo of your dream destination as your screensaver to serve as a constant reminder? (It’s probably not a bad view, either.)
2. Go big or go home…
When you’re setting goals, they should be dream-like in size. As Richard Branson famously said, “if your dreams don’t scare you, they’re too small.” If it’s not ambitious and you don’t really want it, your motivation will quickly wane and you’ll wonder why you ever got started.
These kind of resolutions are the ones that deeply excite us, encouraging us to carve out the future we see for ourselves. They require you to adopt more long-term thinking, which should help you to plan backwards.
Psychologist Susan Weinschenk claims that ‘the desire for mastery’ is one of the 7 human motivators. “People are very motivated to learn and master skills and knowledge. If people feel that something is difficult they will be more motivated to do it.” So it’s important to make sure your resolution feels appropriately challenging.
3. … But make sure your goals are measurable
Yes, your goals need to feel like a real accomplishment, but they also need to be achievable. According to this new study, we’re guilty of focusing too much on the reward when we set a goal (e.g. dropping three dress sizes) and not enough on the effort (going to the gym and eating healthier). This means we’re more likely to set goals that aren’t realistic.
When you’re setting a resolution, consider how much mental effort is required to reach it. If it feels unrealistic, consider adapting it to something that’s more achievable or breaking it into smaller chunks to tackle one by one.
For example, rather than committing yourself to simply ‘getting fit this year’, set yourself a measurable challenge, such as running a 10k by summer 2020. This kind of goal gives you something tangible to aim for and you can easily track your progress towards it.
Trying to cut your debt? It’s worth putting a number on it and holding yourself to it. Are you paying interest on your current credit card balance? Then a balance transfer card could help you save money and pay down your debt quicker. You can compare a range of balance transfer cards on ClearScore now.
4. Get someone else involved
This research by Leeds University found that weathering the storm with someone else can boost the likelihood of sticking to your resolutions.
Maybe you’re saving up for a house deposit with your partner - could you hold each other accountable for putting away a certain amount each month or reduce your budget for date night going forwards? If your aim is to get into a new sport, why not persuade your best friend to join that tag rugby team you’ve been keen to try but are too shy to go alone to?
Not only will this give you both the reassurance that reaching your goal is possible, but a little bit of competition should keep you inspired when you feel like giving up.
Never forget the importance of going public when making resolutions. The more public a commitment people make, the stronger the influence that action has on future actions. According to Weinschenk, “the more public a commitment that people make, the stronger the persona change will be. When we take an action that only we know about, we aren’t showing our commitment.”
You could try making a ‘commitment contract’ on stickk.com, which involves you putting your money on the line as a public display of commitment to your goal.
5. Get to know your weaknesses
Not just one of those dreaded job interview questions, understanding our individual strengths and weaknesses is critical to being self-aware.
It might sound obvious but avoiding temptation is significantly easier than exercising willpower. Let’s say you’re trying to spend less time glued to a screen. Keeping your phone in a different room when you sleep is a good idea if you want to avoid the temptation of checking it when you can’t sleep, rather than keeping it on your bedside table.
Once you know what tempts you to stray from your goals, you can learn to manage and avoid these factors.
And go easy on yourself. Everyone has good and bad days - if you fall victim to temptation at any point, the most important thing you can do is learn from it. This is a great exercise in self-control which will benefit other areas of your life, from developing your decision making skills to improving focus.
6. Celebrate the milestones
Acknowledging that your efforts are paying off not only boosts your self-esteem, but it’ll put you in a better frame of mind and give you the motivation to continue towards the next hurdle.
Psychologically, we feel a rush of endorphins when we celebrate. Your body will recall this feeling when you’re working towards your resolution and you’ll be reminded of how great it felt. Without this, you’re training your body to think that your hard work isn’t all that meaningful, which is likely to result in lower motivation levels going forward.
Remember that celebrating doesn’t have to mean halting your progress. If your goal was to lose 10lbs, for example, rewarding yourself with your guilty pleasure isn’t going to unravel the changes you’ve made (within reason). You’ve worked hard to earn that treat - enjoy it.
Now you’ve got our tips, it’s time to get back on track with your new year’s resolutions. Remember that forming new habits and shedding old ones takes time - more than 2 months, according to this research. It’s not an overnight process, so don’t expect miracles! Why not get started with one of ClearScore’s coaching plans? We’ll help you reach your financial goals quicker with a personalised to-do list to check off.