Research suggests that approximately half of Americans make New Year’s Resolutions but only 8% actually follow through with them. What can you do to be one of these elite achievers who set out to lose weight, travel more, and/or spend less? Read on to find eight tips that will help you reach your 2018 goals.

January. The start of any new year often fills us with excitement and a surge of exhilaration to be and do more with our fresh start. Many come up with personalized goals of things to do, places to explore, and ways to improve. But how often does June or July roll around and we remember our goals written down in a dusty notebook in a drawer somewhere…untouched and unreached? We tell ourselves it is too late to make significant changes at this point and we abandon our goals altogether. Has this happened to you?

If so, you are not alone. Setting goals is the fun part; actually working for them is what takes diligent, consistent effort. Let this be your year where you actively work for those goals you have set. Here are eight tips to help you set and keep your New Year’s Resolutions:

  1. Dream big! Goals are empowering. They take us from where we are to where we want to go. Reach for the sky! If you always wanted to go to Antarctica, make it happen. There truly is no dream too big to achieve if you set your mind to it and work hard.
  2. Then think small. Having a massive goal like running a marathon in 2018 is great, but how will you achieve it? Set measurable, smaller goals that will be stepping stones to your bigger goal. Run one mile, then two, then a 5k, and build up from there to get to half marathon and eventually a full. Set S.M.A.R.T. goals–goals that are specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-bound. Identify when you will run, how far you will run, when you will rest, if you will cross train (and if so, what and when), what your diet and sleeping patterns look like, how you will be accountable, etc. Goals that are clearly defined will enable you to quantify your efforts in order to reach your goal.
  3. Commit yourself. Think through why you are setting these goals. Some habits, like overeating, nail biting, and smoking, are tough habits to kick…especially if you only have one foot in. If you want to make a change, DO IT. This is your year. Commit! Be accountable; you can involve others or you can create a personal outward tracking system so you are accountable to yourself. Commit, show up, and you will see results!
  4. Track your progress. Having S.M.A.R.T., measurable goals will allow you to track your progress. You will be able to see growth as well as areas where you are lacking, and then you can adjust your efforts. Regularly examine your progress and make changes if necessary.
  5. Prioritize: Schedule it in. So many of us say we do not have time for things, yet we somehow manage to waste time aimlessly scrolling through Instagram or watching T.V.  How we choose to spend our time sends a message of what is important to us; we need to make time for the things that matter most. My suggestion is to literally schedule time for your goals: If you want to organize your living space, literally block time off in your planner. If you want to lose weight, commit to a public class at the gym with a set time to keep you accountable. These are important engagements in your life; you need to schedule other things around your goals!
  6. Cut the “all or nothing” mentality. Just because you go out on Friday night and eat french fries does not mean you also need a dessert; nor does it mean you need to wait until Monday to work on eating better. If you do not have a full 60 minutes to dedicate to a tough work out at the gym, instead go for an all-out 20 minutes at home. We often get caught up in the mentality of perfect or nothing. Remember, you only really fail when you do not try.
  7. Be patient. Remember that you will reach your goals a little bit each day–by gradual, consistent, and measured effort. Whether you are trying to lose weight, gain lean body mass, pay off debt, save for a trip, or overcome a bad habit,…it will take time. It will take consistent effort. Be patient with yourself and keep at it.
  8. When you slip up, get up and show up. Not one of us is perfect. We will have days where we slip up, forget, give up, or even fail miserably. But as the great Vince Lombardi said, “It isn’t whether you get knocked down, it’s whether you get back up.” Being resilient and consistent is the key with goals; do not turn relapses or temporary failures into total meltdowns or excuses for giving up. Instead, just acknowledge the mistake and recommit to your goals.

One final piece of advice I would like to touch on is to be selective. Many of my clients often bite off more than they can chew. Instead of setting many goals and only reaching a few of them (or even none of them), carefully select two or three of your most important goals, and work towards those. If you focus on a couple lofty goals, commit yourself, track your progress, and patiently and consistently work towards the goals you have set, you will see results!

Goals are powerful. I use them with my clients in all different stages of growth and recovery, and I believe that–when backed by dedication–they can work. Let 2018 be your year to work on you! Whether you want to work through a traumatic childhood experience, an abusive relationship, or a mental illness, I can help. Contact me today or schedule your first session now to get a powerful start on dominating those 2018 Resolutions.

Melissa Cluff is a licensed marriage and family therapist based in Lewisville, Texas, personally seeing clients in the North Dallas area.

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