You watched the ball drop, you blew a few horns, kissed your significant other and then vowed to do better this year. Maybe you've started using your phone less or spent more time with your kids. You started eating healthier or vowed to quit smoking.
But then the holidays came to a dreadful close, life happened and you just light up a Camel Crush and swore you'd never try to quit again. Perhaps you hit the Dairy Queen drive-thru after work because you just had a rotten day. Or the fact that your local Sam's Club is closing and you need to find out when the next round of sales starts so you're glued to Facebook.
Resolutions are a resolve to do better. Do more, do less or do nothing. Regardless it's a "resolve" - Merriam-Webster defines it as "to make a definite or serious decision to do something." It does not define it as "a life or death, all-or-nothing decision that must be done perfectly or else you're ruined and can't start again until next year." (Get my drift?) More often than not, people fail sooner rather than later when it comes to a New Year's Resolution. Fortunately, because it is merely a decision and not a unbreakable vow, you are allowed to mess up and try again.
Rather than quitting or putting your goals off to another time or a better circumstance, here are a few tips that have helped me stay (or get back on) track.
1. What Caused You to Slip-Up?
What exactly happened that steered your car into that drive-thru of dairy deliciousness while you unconsciously sat behind the wheel? A rotten day? A disagreement with your spouse? An unkind word from a co-worker? What happened the moment before you lit up that cigarette? If you merely couldn't stand another second with nicotine withdrawal symptoms - they make products for that. But what exactly happened? Once you identify that, was it in your control? If it was, how can you avoid that same situation next time? If it wasn't, you can you better handle your reaction next time? Which leads me to Step 2...
2. What are your Alternatives?
So if the situation was in your control, the next step should be simple - avoid creating that situation again. Easier said than done right? If it wasn't in your control, what's a better reaction? If your impulse is to smother yourself with a jar of peanut butter, maybe next time try going for a walk. Write down your feelings or confide in someone that will be objective. I love the show "Nashville." It's very soap-opera-y but I've been invested too long to get out and I have a girl-crush on Hayden Panettiere. This season, Panettiere's character, Juliette Barnes, who is known for her hot-headed, impulsive starlett public breakdowns, seeks counseling from an infomercial therapist. One exercise he has her perform when she feels threatened is to count to 10 in her head before she answers. That way she has time to avoid an outburst and she can put together an honest or deflective response. Pretty smart logic when you think about it right? Before you reach into that candy bowl or pick up your phone to tell social media EXACTLY what you think, stop and count to 10. Will your next course of action lead to regret? Will it serve you in anyway? Can it solve the problem? (probably not.) Take those 10 seconds of clarity before you act impulsively.
3. What will it take to start over?
If you're going for that lightning streak on the Bible app or consecutive days logged on MyFitnessPal - Dude once you mess that thing up, you've messed that thing up. Just gotta start over and hope for the best. Thankfully, most things in life do not work like that. You caved and hit that Cookout Drive-Thru for lunch? Have a healthy meal for dinner and move on. If that one cigarette was enough to stifle you for a few more days, then maybe it wasn't that bad. Cutting back from several cigarettes a day to one every now and then is a pretty big feat. Realized you've been on Facebook for the past 30 minutes rather than doing the laundry you swore you'd get to today? Put the phone down and get to work so you don't waste another 30.
Starting over is really not that hard and it's really not that big of a deal. Most people will never know you slipped up and you'll be back on your feet before you even realize it. Perfection is not attainable so doing "Pretty good" should suffice. Do Step 1 & 2, make a plan for Step 3 and get back to work.
Wait....3 steps? That's it? Pretty much. Don't overcomplicate things people. It's not very easy for someone that doesn't know how to cook to be given a complicated recipe with a lot of steps and expect things to turn out well. If you've messed up on one goal once, it would be silly to say "Oh here's 10 more steps to help you reach that one goal." Bite-sized pieces.
Thinking of bite-sized pieces, here's a little extra credit step:
If your goal seems to big, make it more attainable - make it smaller (bite-sized pieces), make it SMARTer (Google SMART goals), or make it more realistic. We all tend to dream big, especially when a brand new year that just happened to start on a Monday is knocking at our door, but there's no reason you can't reevaluate. I can assure you your iPhone 8 was not the 8th iPhone ever created. More like the 8 thousandth prototype.
Here's to getting back on the horse, finishing the race or whatever other cliche punchline I can throw in here to inspire you to get back after it!