New Year's resolutions: What to do when you've already dropped them and how to start again

Just a few months back, we were looking at a bright new start by setting New Year's resolutions. In just a blink of an eye, Spring is here, and many of our goals have fallen to oblivion. Here are tips to get back on track and guarantee we keep the promise to improve our lives.

Published on 2023-04-04

Old habits die hard! It is no wonder New Year resolutions get a bad rap when most fall by the wayside, even before the season changes. However, there are things we can do to make progress toward our goals.

1. Think positive.

Approach this task guilt free! Before you look at the resolutions that have fallen off your priority list, think of all you have achieved. You will surely make the most of revisiting goals by not beating yourself down for what you missed but actually giving yourself props for what you accomplished.

2. Discover where you are now.

Techniques such as journaling can allow you to figure out where you are standing today. Holidays give us a rare opportunity to stop and think about our lives with the outlook of a brand-new year ahead. Taking some time to think about your current situation can help you figure out whether you are still the same as when you set those resolutions in the first place.

3. Put yourself to the test.

Before you look at the goals you set, make a new list that reflects your current state. Then, compare both and check if your priorities have changed. Consider whether the promises you made in January are still significant today. It may be that, back then, you were at a crossroads or going through something that felt important at that time but no longer resonates with you. Ditch anything that has lost significance and does not fit your new reality.

4. Assess, assess, assess!

Ponder why you dropped your resolutions in the first place. Perhaps you set unrealistic goals or failed to create a plan to achieve them; perhaps you encountered unexpected obstacles or lost motivation along the way. Whatever the reason, it is essential to identify it and make changes to avoid similar pitfalls in the future. Assess whether they failed because of external factors that came into play or if their success is truly in your hands. You might find that some of the goals you set are unattainable in the new scenario that presents to you. Chastising yourself for something that is beyond your control is unproductive and harmful.

5. Break them down.

Once you have selected goals that are still relevant and attainable, break them down. Choose one resolution and think about concrete actions you can take now toward fulfilling them. For instance, if you want to improve your eating habits, make a list of steps: setting alarms to remind you to snack healthy, making a grocery list and sticking to it, and researching restaurant menus before going out.

6. Do not stall.

As soon as you have committed again to one of your goals, take a step towards completing them. Let's say you wanted to pick up a new hobby: Schedule a call to the closest pottery class in town, or email the climbing gym to book a session. Do not let the list sit for too long before you act.

7. Find an accountability partner.

Doing things on your own can feel burdensome. Find a friend to discuss your resolutions and bounce off ideas. If you find any common goals, consider partnering to achieve them. Say you want to increase the steps you take daily, and they need to exercise more, set up a time to do it together. For the goals you must reach on your own, find a friend willing to support you by following your progress and being there for you during setbacks.

8. Set up a reward system.

While keeping track of your progress towards resolutions, think of ways to reward yourself for making them stick. If you are committed to playing the piano daily and have started with 5 minutes a day, give yourself a treat when you do it for 20 minutes instead.

9. Make your goals visible.

Create a vision board or a list of actions and habits near you. You could post your goals on the fridge or create a bookmark for your planner with a list of them, so you will not lose track. Set time aside to revisit your progress and consider any changes you want to implement to your plan.

10. Be kind to yourself.

Remember that setbacks are a natural part of the process, and it is okay to make mistakes. Focus on progress, not perfection.

If you've dropped your New Year's resolutions, it's not too late to pick them up again. However, there is no use in picking up goals as they are: Revisit, assess, and readjust. Never lose sight of the fact that these promises are meant to improve your life and should never become a source of anxiety and guilt. There is a myriad of things you already do and that is worth celebrating. Acknowledge the effort you put into creating the life you imagine for yourself.

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