My favorite holiday is New Year’s Eve. There’s so much hope and promise for what the new year will hold. We’re feeling optimistic and motivated to do the things we’ve always hoped to do. We’re excited to restart our fitness routine, eat healthier, learn a new skill, or procrastinate less. Anything feels possible on 12/31.
Unfortunately, that feeling fades shortly after the new year begins. Studies show that out of the 50% of adults who make a New Year’s resolution, fewer than 25% actually commit to their resolutions for 30 days — and fewer than 10% commit for several months.
Where do all our good intentions go?
Our resolutions can be a massive change from our typical behaviors and habits. We all have the capability to change into the best versions of ourselves, but an all-or-nothing mindset does not support our efforts. Instead of seeing our resolutions as goals that need to be achieved right now — at this very second — maybe it’s actually more about the journey.
Let’s attempt our resolutions by embracing the small wins! Yes, achieving huge goals feels good. However, we can also celebrate along the way by acknowledging the actions that got us there. How many times have we become frustrated with our progress by the end of January? Our disappointment can lead us to abandon our goals altogether and move into February feeling defeated.
We can approach this differently.
“The Progress Principle” just may be the answer. Essentially, when we can recognize the progress we make along the journey, we can feel joy, which, in turn, boosts our productivity and motivation. What if nightly or weekly we check in on our progress by counting the small wins we’ve made?
Small wins can include adding more vegetables to our family’s dinner plates as we commit to eating healthier, forgoing our Starbucks trip today in an effort to save money, listening to a podcast during our commute to learn that new skill, walking the dog as a family to increase our time together, or folding the laundry tonight in an attempt to be more organized instead of dumping it onto the “laundry chair.”
The best part about small wins is that they often lead to big rewards!
Downloading a meditation app can lead to more completed meditation sessions before the rest of the family wakes up. Reading 10 minutes each night could lead to less mindless social media scrolling before bed for a more restful night’s sleep. A soothing Sunday night bath after the kids are asleep can help ward off the Sunday night scaries, reducing your overall stress levels.
Take a look at a goal you set recently. Instead of measuring whether you’ve achieved it or not, list out all the small wins you’ve accomplished in the process. Then next to each small win, write about a reward that came from it. You’ll be shocked to see how truly successful you’ve been. Achieving our goals does not need a Herculean effort on our part. It’s acknowledging all the small actions we have done that collectively produce big results.
There are bound to be ups and downs in the pursuit of any goal. This shouldn’t lure us away from goal setting or making any New Year’s resolutions. How we perceive our journey makes all the difference. So break out the champagne (non-alcoholic, if you prefer!) and a fancy flute. Toast to the promise of a successful year.
Remember to stay in the present moment and count each of your small wins — because they are powerful steps along the way to living your best life. Cheers!
You can also make goal setting a family affair. If you’re interested in helping your kids write their own goals, check out this Boston Moms post highlighting an exercise you can complete with your kiddos.