What goals come to mind when making New Year’s resolutions? Maybe they’re health-related, such as getting more exercise or ramping up the home-cooked meals. Or maybe it’s a simpler feat, such as making your bed every morning or flossing three times a week. Complicated or no, there’s one thing that can make or break a new year’s resolution – motivation.
Affixing New Year’s resolutions with your youth can be a great introduction to goal setting and accountability. However, how do you address the fact that it’s not always going to be easy? How do you account for waking up too exhausted to make your bed, or not feeling up to getting some fresh air outside? That’s where planning comes in.
We put together these five tips to help your youth (and maybe even you) plan out New Year’s resolutions, and goals in general! With these additions to your YAP toolbox, 2023 is sure to be a happy, healthy, and successful year!
1. BREAK UP THE GOAL INTO SMALLER GOALS
Research shows that youth are most successful at achieving their goals when they are broken into “proximal subgoals.” Set a timeline and map out every step towards the main achievement. For example, if you wanted to get into the habit of flossing your teeth or taking morning walks each day, you could start out by doing it weekly and eventually work your way up to daily. If the resolution is process-related, such as an art project or starting a small business, bite-sized chunks that can be accomplished weekly can make the final goal much less daunting. As the saying goes, you can’t eat an elephant in a day!
2. BE SPECIFIC
It’s not enough to just say you’re going to do something. Say when, where, and how you’re going to do it, too. If your goal is to study harder in school, set a timeline. Will it be for the test coming in the next two weeks, or for the entire semester? Where can you go to make sure you are studying? Would it be weekly studies in the library with your friends, or tutoring sessions in the classroom with your teacher? The more detailed you are, the more likely you are to follow the cues, as research says, that will lead you to success.
3. TELL THE WORLD
There’s nothing like sharing your goals with your friends and family. The more people who know about the goal, the more likely you are to stick with it. Make it a point to tell at least three people close to you what your New Year’s resolution is. Make sure that they’re people you see regularly, such as a friend or Caring Adult. Holding yourself accountable is important, but it helps to have others cheer you on along the way!
4. MAKE IT FUN
Make it fun? You may be scratching your head at this one. After all, hard work is a part of life, and accomplishing your goals is not always a walk in the park. Research suggests, however, that immediate rewards along the way can increase your persistence toward the long-term goal. Here’s an example: Imagine that you are trying to get organized for the new year and you decide to start keeping a planner. To make it fun, you could treat yourself to some stylish stationery, trendy pens, and an assortment of fun stickers. The key is to create conditions that make you want to keep coming back!
5. BE FLEXIBLE
With all of these tips in mind, motivation can sometimes still slip through our fingers. The important thing is to keep trying! It’s better to be perfectly imperfect than to give up after the first setback. We are not robots programmed to work continuously. We are human beings with emergencies, sick days, and off-days. To remedy these inevitable inconveniences, give yourself one or two days of grace per month. Research has shown that flexibility is more fruitful than rigidity!