4 Steps to Getting Back on Track with Your New Year's Resolutions January 14 2014

It's that time.  Two weeks into the new year and you might be finding yourself struggling to keep those lofty New Year's Resolutions you set for yourself a mere 14 days ago.  Don't feel bad though... According to a study I just completely made up, over 60% of New Year's Resolutions nationwide will fall by the wayside by the end of January.  But fear not.  By following these 4 simple steps, you should find it a whole lot easier to get back on that horse, and stick to your well-intended plans this time around.

Adjust Your Goal

The number one reason people abandon their New Year's Resolutions isn't for lack of effort, but rather due to the fact that the original goal they set for themselves was unrealistic to start with.  Whether alcohol-induced or brought on by the excitement of making a brand new start to the year, for whatever reason we inevitably find ourselves setting lofty goals that are nearly impossible to achieve.

So what to do?  It's simple, really.  Set a new goal.  Think to yourself, what is realistically possible for me to achieve?  If your goal is to lose weight, don't make it your goal to lose 30% of your body weight in the first 6 months.  Start small.  It's not a cop out, you can always adjust your goal later if things are going well.  It's infinitely easier to stay motivated when you actually feel like your right around the corner from your goal than when your goal looks like a distant mountain-top.

Track Your Progress

The second most common reason people lose their motivation with their New Year's Resolutions is they forget to track their progress.  This is critical in working towards any goal.  For one, it's impossible to tell if what you're doing is actually working if you're not tracking your progress.  To use the weight loss example from above, how do you know if your current tactics are working out for you?  You might find yourself hopping on that scale in a few months and being very disappointed after all the effort you put in.

Second, tracking your progress allows you to enjoy a sense of progress.  Oftentimes this little feeling of doing something productive will give birth to new-found motivation, and further drive you towards your goals.  This brings up another essential step in reaching your goals, milestones.

Create Milestones

Depending on the magnitude of your New Year's Resolutions, the road to final success could be a long and arduous journey.  Another key to ensuring success is to create milestones along the way.  Way points, if you will.  Small victories along the way that serve as a reminder of your progress, and how much closer you are to achieving your end goal.  Think of a marathon runner, completely exhausted and still miles away from the finish line.  

Rather than falling into the trap of, "I still have 5 miles to go, I can't even see the finish line, I'm never going to make it," set milestones instead.  Don't worry about the finish line, focus on that curve in the road up ahead, just make it to that spot.  Once you reach that first milestone, keep your eyes forward and focus on that next landmark.  It's a subtle difference, but taking on this mindset can do wonders for staying motivated.

Bring Some Incentive to the Table

Finally, to the fun part.  Set a reward for achieving your goal.  What are you going to do for yourself once you accomplish this lofty task?  Many will tell you that the act of self-improvement alone is reward enough, but let's face it... if you're reading this you're probably struggling and need that extra push.  And that's okay.  And creating a healthy incentive can be that extra push.  

The one thing to remember with this is to set an incentive that's reflective of your goal.  If your New Year's Resolution is to lose 80 lbs by the end of the year, your reward shouldn't be a new dress.  Beef it up a bit.  On the flip side, if  your resolution is to start working out once a week, don't reward yourself with a new car.  Tone it down a bit.