New year, new you

20 tips to tackle your 2020 New Year’s resolutions
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Photo by iStock/Ardeaa

After rounds of Christmas cookies and never-ending credit card bills, many people start the new year craving to “reverse the damage” and seek a more productive routine. They may even have ideas of eating healthier, exercising more, losing weight, paying off debt, saving money or wanting a career transition or promotion. But according to U.S. News & World Report, 80% of those who make New Year’s resolutions fail to keep up the momentum.

Given that the “New year, new you” motto rarely comes true, it can be disheartening when unrealistic expectations cease to make a genuine impact. To be a part of that 20% “VIP club” of folks who actually achieve their New Year’s resolutions, though, Grand Rapids Magazine has devised a list of 20 surefire ways to tackle your goals and intentions with advice from life and career coaches to health trainers and nutritionists around West Michigan. Let’s get to it!

1. Be a S.M.A.R.T.I.E.

Often, people may know what they want, but do not know how to go from A to B, so a plan of action steps is necessary. Make your goal specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, timely, intentional and enjoyable, too.

2. Find your why 

Instead of thinking, “I should lose weight” or “I have to get a promotion at work,” figure out the reason behind what you want. If it comes from a sense of obligation, it will be more difficult to maintain your motivation. But having a reason behind the action that is important to you makes the journey more gratifying.

3. Expect barriers 

The journey will include setbacks, but that does not mean you should give up. If you want to transition careers, you may have to take supplemental classes. This could impose a financial obstacle but does not mean it is impossible.

4. Lean on support 

Changing your life routines can be a difficult journey, but you do not need to do it alone. Networking and talking with trainers, life coaches or financial advisers can provide you with useful tips on how to succeed along the way. Informing your friends and family of your action steps also can offer accountability and encouragement.

5. Be patient 

One dollar in the piggy bank will not get you that house you are saving toward, but consistent steps do make a difference. It can be discouraging not to see results right away, but most changes happen over time through gradual shifts.

6. Focus on one change at a time

It can be overwhelming if you take too large of a leap or try to tackle too many goals at one time. Rather than attempting to stick to a complicated and rigid diet, make small adjustments. Try bringing lunch from home instead of eating out or switching from high-sugar desserts to fruit and tea after dinner. Once it feels like a habit, move on to the next step toward improvement.

7. Track your progress

Logging improvements, as well as hardships, can evoke self-awareness and help you evaluate your past successes and failures, making it easier for you to learn how to accomplish your goals faster and more efficiently.

8. Mark up your calendar

Your planner does not need to only be used for work meetings and doctor appointments. Time management plays a role in what you accomplish each day. If you pencil in a coffee date with a friend or sign up for a race months out, it becomes a priority that you will want to carry through and foster.

9. Celebrate small wins

There is no need to wait to party. Recognizing and commending the milestones accomplished along the way keeps your momentum going strong. Received a few interviews after submitting applications into the void? Went to the gym even though you had a stressful day at work? Saved a third of your vacation goal? Commemorate your progress. It will sweeten the journey.

10. Change your mindset

Accept where you are on the path. There is no need to doubt yourself. Interrupt your inner critic and show yourself some care. Your tone, attitude and mental motives can make a difference when creating goals and intentions.

11. Lead the way

While support is essential for the process, your parents, boss or teacher are not going to tell you what to do regarding self-improvement. Be proactive about what you want and take ownership. Other people can offer care, advice and help to connect the dots, but anticipate that you will be the one performing the hard work.

12. Get motivated by feelings 

We are all driven by the way we feel. If you do not feel good during the process, there is a slim chance you will follow it all the way through to the end. If you hate running, cycling or swimming, there is no need to enter a triathlon. Try a dance or yoga class instead. You will be more motivated to do something long term if you enjoy the activity.

13. No time limit 

Just because a ball dropped in Times Square does not mean you must start a resolution on the first day of January. Start anytime. If you realize in April you want to switch careers and take up coding, take a workshop or start applying. Accept the flexibility life offers.

14. Measure behaviors over outcomes 

Resolutions often stem from wanting a specific outcome, but making a sustainable plan will help you realize what you can control. “I will save $25 each week” is more measurable than saying, “I will pay off all my credit card debt.

15. Forgive yourself 

It is normal to make mistakes and get off track. You do not need to beat yourself up. What matters is your ability to forgive yourself and learn how you can do better next time. Even if you did not go to the gym once last week, those who achieve success in their resolutions are usually the ones who do not let slip-ups alter their progress.

16. Write it down 

Do not just think about what you want. Grab a pen and paper and write what it is exactly that you want. Writing your intentions and scheduling steps for achievement can make it easier for you to remember your goals when life gets busy.

17. Forget the fear

Do not be afraid to ask yourself serious questions about what brings you excitement and what you can see yourself actually doing. Be honest with yourself. If you have always dreamt of starting your own business, figure out realistic first steps you can take.

18. Take pride in preparation

Do something nice for your tomorrow self. Finding little ways to prepare in advance can help ease the process when developing new routines and habits. Meal prepping or packing a gym bag the night before can support you the following morning when you are rushing to work or school.

19. Have fun 

Discover what brings you joy. Often, resolutions are about what you do not like about yourself. Focusing on what you do want in the future and what thrills you creates a more positive direction for you to follow. Stop the negative thoughts and uncover your curiosity. A new hobby could lead you on to a new career path.

20. Develop relationships

While you may be working on self-improvement, that does not mean you cannot foster the relationships around you, as well. Connecting with others can not only be a benefit to you, such as when networking, but while helping the community, you also have the opportunity to encourage and inspire other people’s goals and intentions.

Grand Rapids Magazine compiled the previous list with help from Andrea Kasprzak, author of “Imagination Transforms Everything”; Aubrey Marlette, certified coach and owner of Serendipity Life Design; Kimberly Gleason, founder of Blue Bridge Leadership; Anne Hamming, owner and founder of Anne Hamming Life Coaching; John Ybarra, senior health and wellness director at YMCA of Greater Grand Rapids; Kara Mockler, MS, RDN, health and wellness director at YMCA of Greater Grand Rapids; and Grace Derocha, registered dietitian and certified health coach at Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan.

Lead the way

Looking for some help keeping your New Year’s resolutions? These apps will keep you motivated.

Way of Life — Habit Tracker

This app helps you make new habits or break bad ones.

Gratitude Happiness Journal

Remind yourself of what you’re grateful for and work on improving your overall happiness.

Insight Timer – Meditation

This app features guided meditation, music and talks posted by contributing experts.

Ate Food Diary

Instead of counting calories, this app helps you keep track of what you ate, why you ate it and how it made you feel, to help you improve your eating habits and health.

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