How do you do that, keep up your good intentions? I’m good at good resolutions! And yes, I dare say so. Maybe a bold statement, but I have noticed in recent years that a lot of people around me make certain resolutions, hoping that a lot will change in a year. But by Blue Monday (on the 20th of January 2020) you’re back in your daily life and all those new plans seem a long way off. You are back at work, back at school or back in your daily routine in a different way. Da-haag, motivation to change a lot.
How do you keep up your good intentions?
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Were you going to ‘do more sports’ or ‘eat less snacks’? Or maybe you wanted to use yourself to get better points at school or to get a promotion at work? Why is it that we often find it so difficult to keep up with our good intentions and why does that golden shine go off so quickly? Little tip of the veil: it’s actually all up to ourselves and the pressure we put on ourselves. So how do you get rid of it? I’ll be happy to explain:
1. Be realistic and nice to yourself
I know, there’s nothing sexy about being realistic and planning realistically. Don’t we all want to win the Lotto and buy a desert island? I feel ya… but unfortunately, it’s not like that.
Be nice to yourself if you can’t keep up your (unrealistic?) good intentions and be happy with every step you take in the right direction. Anything you do extra in comparison to last year, is only good for you.
Solution: set realistic goals and don’t be angry with yourself if it doesn’t work out.
2. Start in advance
Who has ever decided that at the stroke of midnight on January 1st you have to change your life completely? Just during the holidays and the holiday season it is incredibly difficult to keep up your good intentions! You’ll be out of your daily routine for a while and that makes it very difficult to break with old, bad habits.
Would you like to do more sports? Maybe you should just start doing it in December! So you’ve already grown a basic habit by the time it’s finally New Year’s Eve. Hit the ground running!
Solution: Don’t start your good intentions on January 1st, but already earlier
3. Make your plans measurable
Aha! This must be pretty much my hobbyhorse. The people around me will hear me coming, but: make your goals measurable. An example: you want to lose weight and make a good intention of it. Or you’re going to snack less. Or save more, smoke less, … you get it. These kind of vague goals are doomed to fail. How do you make your plans measurable (for the office peeps: yes, I’m talking about SMART goals)? Stick numbers on them!
Examples: ‘I’d like to lose 3 kilos by 1 April’, ‘I’m only allowed to smoke half a pack of cigarettes a day’, ‘I want to save 10,000 euros this year’,….
See? This way you can plan your goals much better and you can also divide everything into sub-goals.
4. Write out your plans
I always have a notebook and pen with me, always. Although I’ve been working in digital marketing for years now, I can’t do without my bullet journal (how do you start a bullet journal? Start with bullet journals) and it comes with me everywhere.
And yes, in my bullet journal I also write down my plans. They’re not chiselled in paper, it’s not slate (ha-ha), but it’s very nice to write them down. Especially to remind yourself of your goals in between. And, what I also think is fantastic, to be able – once you’ve achieved them – to be able to strip them off and to have them written down in black and white showing how many of those goals you have achieved.
Tip: write down your goals and take a look at them on a regular basis.
5. Tell about your plans
Would you like to lose a few pounds or save more? Tell your goals to someone close to you or to colleagues, for example. It really helps if you have someone who can hold you responsible for your good intentions and reminds you of them every now and then.
Tip: Tell some of your plans to people close to you: this way you will feel more obliged to make them come true.
6. Set aside some time every day for your intentions
Work on your resolutions every day, even if it’s just a little something. It’s better to work a little bit every day than to be suddenly lagging behind. Do you find it difficult to save large sums of money? Then regularly transfer 20 euros to your savings account. You feel much less of this and mentally it feels much less like ‘having to deny yourself something’. But, add it up after a year and you’ll see that you’ll end up with a considerable amount!
Tip: go for the marathon, not for the sprint
7. What motivates you?
What motivates you? What makes you want to jump out of bed in the morning to work on your good intentions? Once you know that, you can brainwash yourself. I’m someone who loves numbers and charts, so I really want to see my progress. Enter the smartwatch of activity tracker if I want to move more. Gamification is my thing, say. Offeuh, Glamourista’s rising charts, that sort of thing.
Maybe you’re more of a competition animal than a numbers freak? Then it’s ideal for you to find a buddy to try and take the lead.
Tip: find out what energizes you to stay motivated, and hack yourself!
8. Keep a diary or bullet journal
I said it briefly above: keep a diary or a bullet journal to keep track of your progress. Maybe that seems a bit overwhelming (I also get stress from my bullet journal sometimes), but it certainly doesn’t have to be every day. Just pen down a few thoughts in between or take another look at your goals.
9. Hang in there
You don’t get anywhere until you do something about it regularly. It sounds so simple, doesn’t it? But it’s not. It takes a lot of effort to do something every day (or at least very regularly), especially if it’s not the world’s best intention. Think about your final goal and think about how you will feel when you have reached that goal in a year’s time.
10. Failed? Just keep going!
Are you not yet able to reach your goal or have you given up for a while? Don’t see your whole project as a failure, you just had a bad day or period. But that’s why it hasn’t completely failed yet! You’ve lost a battle, but not the whole war. Get back up and start working at full throttle on your goals again.
11. Stay nice to yourself
This is a difficult one: stay nice to yourself, even if you don’t manage to keep up your good intentions. You’re not a bad person because you’re in a dip or because you just can’t keep up your good intentions. Self love, people!
12. Remind yourself of the benefits
Sometimes, if you don’t succeed in keeping to those good intentions, it is very difficult to look at it in a positive way. And I totally understand that! That’s why it’s so important to remind yourself of all the benefits if you can fulfill those good intentions!
13. Limit your resolutions in number
A-ha, I’m guilty of this myself! I pile and pile and grab more and more and before I know it, I have about twenty good intentions (well, I’ll make goals out of it) that I want to achieve during the new year. And honestly: sometimes that can really cause stress. So choose the most important resolutions you would like to fulfill.
14. Celebrate you small victories
Have you lost your first pounds? Can you eat a lot less? Did you just save 1000 dollars? Great! It’s super motivating to reward yourself and celebrate your small victories. But be aware that you don’t suddenly start spending a lot of money while you want to save, or that you suddenly start banging while you want to eat healthier food.
15. Make a collage or vision board
This is a very important tip: make a collage or a vision board of the goals you want to achieve. It is nice to look at this in between and remind yourself why you are doing all this.
16. Listen to audio books or follow some Youtubers
These tips really work very well for me: choose some motivating audiobooks or follow some Youtubers that you find inspiring. This way you create a kind of check-in for yourself every time you listen to the video or audiobook (these are my favorite, inspiring audiobooks and ordinary books that changed my life) and you get a big boost for your motivation!
Could you make habits out of your charities or can you link it to existing habits you already have? It may sound simple, but sometimes that is still disappointing. This is actually also a kind of bio-hacking: link your new habits to habits you already have, and it will cost you a lot less effort.
Some examples: Do you clean the dishwasher before you go to sleep? Then suddenly go over the kitchen top with a cloth, or quickly put all the dishes in place. It’s all in the small, everyday things!
18. Imagine your life with your new habits
“Ah, what if I’m finally fitter?” or “I can’t wait to have a tidy house. What would your life be like if you finally achieved your goals? Picture it, write it down or turn it into a collage! Every time you want to give up, look at it. What would your day specifically look like when you reached your goals?
Tip: write down your ideal day and then make a retro planning. What steps need to be taken before you reach that goal? Break those steps down into small intermediate steps and stick a timeline on them)
19. Put reminders in your diary
We humans are often forgetful. I can talk about it… that’s why it’s not crazy to schedule your goals in your diary (or your sub-tasks). Or schedule a quarterly check-in with yourself.
20. Do your resolutions really have to last a whole year?
Do you want to follow a no-buy? (You can read my tips for a make-up no buy here) Maybe you don’t want to do that for a whole year? You can also start small for a few months and decide to continue after those months. Sometimes you find it difficult to have to deny yourself something for a whole year and that mental blockage can become too big.
Tip: Start with a goal of 3 or 6 months and see if you can extend it then, if you like.
21. Take your good intentions with you
I told you, write down your good intentions in a bullet journal, and take them with you. Or: take a picture of your collage and put it as a telephone background! I’m just saying: somehow take your resolutions with you. That way you can quickly remind yourself of them again!
22. Surf on the good flow
Oh my gosh, that sounded a little floatier than I actually mean it. But everything’s so much easier when you’re a little successful. Say you created a blog because you want to start a blog. Awesome! The first few months will be tough if you don’t have any visitors yet, but cling to the visitors you do have. And keep on writing, especially when things are going well and you’re confident you’ll be able to do it in a year’s time. Enjoy that good flow!
23. Think about your success: what if it succeeds?
What if you manage to reach your charities in a year? What will your life be like then? What do you look like at that moment? It helps a lot to stay motivated if you can imagine what your life will be like at that moment. It also helps to make a collage or a vision board, if you like!
24. Here and now
Think about the here and now: what can you do here and now to achieve your goals? Divide all your goals into small parts and pick something out today. Would you like to get your driver’s license? Then call a driving school today. Would you like to lose 5 kilos? Eat a lot more vegetables today.
25. Little steps!
I said it briefly above: divide your big goals into small, manageable chunks and steps. This way every step you take seems easy to reach (also mentally that is important). Imagine that you save 1 euro every day. Very little at first sight, but remember that you will have saved 365 euros in a full year. Every step is one step ahead!
- Bonus: good intentions (inspiration)!
Eat less sugar
eat less carbohydrates
look for a new job
go back to studying
be less on social media (will you stay here for a while, pretty please?).
Spend more time with family, partner or children
take more time for yourself