Emerson once said that "consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds." But when it comes to New Year's resolutions, 100% success usually isn't a source of fear or dread.
In fact, with resolutions, most of us think consistency is everything-- which is why it’s so easy to fade by February once we find ourselves slipping even slightly. When we eat too much, miss our target weight loss, or don’t get to the gym for a few days, we conveniently give up-- taking an all-or-nothing stand so that when we don’t achieve all, we have a built-in excuse to settle for nothing.
What, then, can we do when we find our resolutions fizzling?
First of all, review your goals to make sure they’re really yours. While this may sound silly, we live in a world of "shoulds," under constant pressure to follow agendas that don’t have real value for us. Are you trying to lose a few pounds because your spouse thinks you should? Do you play softball on the church team because you got dragged into a position someone else vacated? If so, you may want to rethink your priorities. You’re far more likely to commit to-- and accomplish—goals that are truly important and meaningful to you.
Second, run a reality check on your goals. So often, experts say, the biggest problem in keeping resolutions lies with making them. Caught up in the enthusiasm of a fresh start, we throw ourselves with wild abandon at a vast list of unattainable goals, then wonder why we revert to our old ways. Were you suffering from delusions of grandeur when you pledged to run 40 miles a week? Was it feasible—or even healthy—to commit to a diet of 1000 calories per day? And did you really intend to give up chocolate completely, especially when you knew darn well that hubby would be giving you the traditional heart-shaped box on Valentine’s Day?
If you find your original resolutions a bit too daunting, don’t be afraid to scale down. Reduce that list of multiple goals to just a few, and make them realistic and do-able— instead of pledging to run 40 miles a week, committ to work out for 30 minutes at least three times a week. Besides being realistic—with the built-in flexibility that allows you to move your workouts around—you’ll give yourself room to set a slightly loftier goal once you’ve achieved this initial one. You can still hang onto those other original goals—just add them to your working list, one at a time, as you succeed in meeting current goals.