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New Year’s Resolutions Got You Down?

They seemed like a good idea on January 1st.

Around January 7 – not so much.  Somehow you thought your life would be different come the first of the year, but you still don’t have time to exercise, you still aren’t preparing healthy meals, you are still losing your temper.  What went wrong?

Well, first of all, don’t beat yourself up.  There is nothing wrong with you, you are not a failure and you don’t have some kind of defect.  Maybe the problem isn’t you – maybe your resolutions aren’t quite right.  Here are five reasons why resolutions don’t stick and what you can do about them:

Your resolutions are too vague. 

Do these sound familiar? I’ll lose weight. I’ll go to the gym. I’ll be nicer to my spouse and children. I’ll save money. How will you lose weight?  How often will you go to the gym?  These resolutions aren’t action steps.  You may have no idea how to accomplish these goals.

You are focused on the final outcome and not the steps to get there.

So you need a plan.  Rather than say “I’ll lose weight”, make a resolution to add one fruit and three vegetables to your meal plan every day.  Instead of “I’ll go to the gym”, plan to look up classes for your gym on their website and attend one new one every week.  Or wake up 30 minutes early three times a week to go for a brisk walk.  Vow to learn a relaxation skill this month to use when you feel like you are about to lose your temper, and practice it every day for five minutes.

You don’t have any way to be accountable.

Write these resolutions down!  Keep a journal, or put them on a calendar so that you can have a visual record of what you are supposed to be doing, and if you have done it.  There is nothing more satisfying than crossing off an item on your calendar, knowing you met your intention for the day.

You don’t have support.

Find a friend who is attempting the same goals as you are.  Go for a walk with that person, call them up to compare your food intake and to exchange recipes.  Ask your spouse to remind you when you seem to be getting irritable so that you can take a step back and use the relaxation technique that you are working on learning.

You are trying to change too much at once.

Let’s face it – you can’t lose weight, get fit, write a novel, get a new job, visit your extended family who you haven’t seen in three years, plant a garden, and start a compost pile all in one month.  Probably not even in one year.  Whittle down your resolutions to the most important two or three and concentrate on those for the year.  Or choose 12 smaller goals and try one a month.  After a month your new intentions may become a habit and you can move on to the next one.  And keep the resolutions flexible, if you are swamped at work, cut back your gym visits and go for a fast walk every day.

The most important thing to remember is you may fall off the wagon.  But that doesn’t mean you failed.  Just start again where you are.  It doesn’t have to be January 1 to set a resolution.

Linda Tabach is a blogger for JenningsWire, a blogging community created by Annie Jennings.