• Denise Cartagena

3 Things to Keep in Mind When Making New Year's Resolutions

Updated: Jul 29, 2020

When I think about starting the new year, I think of all the positive changes I want to make. I think about all the things I’ve wanted to change for so long, but just haven’t followed through to see the results. “This year, I want to work out more. I want to save money. I want to get my life together.” Looking back over the past couple years, I always say this to myself, and I always start off really strong. I head to the gym everyday at 6:00, put 100% of my weekly earnings into my savings, and fill my planner with as many things as I possibly can. Before I know it, a month and a half has gone by and I find myself asking, “When was the last time I went to the gym? I was so motivated to make things happen, where did I go wrong?” What is it about the consistency and actually making a lasting change that is so difficult?

Have you ever experienced something similar?

We are constantly bombarded with the idea that we need to make improvements in our lives, and change is good! But we are creatures of habit, and change is really hard. So don’t feel bad if you’ve ever found yourself in the lust of New Year’s Resolutions. Rather, give yourself a pat on the back for coming to the realization that you want to make a change to better yourself! That’s great stuff! And if you’re truly ready to take a chance on yourself and make a change, I have some really great tips to getting you back on track.

Be Realistic — Stop thinking you have to make a miraculous change overnight. You’re only human! Take baby steps and aim for small achievements rather than finding your disappointment.

Pretty much every year, January hits me like a wall. Why? Because I have just spent the last 2 months in holiday mode, enjoying all the amazing food and sleeping in and indulging in birthday cake, alcohol, and presents. And then January 1st comes around and I expect myself to wake up at 5:30, get to the gym, and workout for an hour before coming home and getting ready for the rest of my day? Lol. No. Instead of going from 0–10, try breaking down your goal into baby steps. Will you feel satisfied if you went from 0–1? More often than not, when we can achieve these small wins, we are more likely to over-perform because we have proof and believe that we can, in fact, make this change.

Take Responsibility — You are the only one with the power to show up and make great things happen.

Take a second to think about the change you want to make. What about this change is so important to you? Now, understand that if this change is really that important to you, you are the only one to make it happen. Your mom isn’t going to do it for you. Your partner isn’t going to do it either. You have to.

Think about the way you talk about your goals. Try using the words, “I will” instead of “I want to”. This will allow you to get more connected to following through and maybe even allow you to visualize yourself making the change. Saying “I want to” keeps your goal detached from you, as if it was more like a dream.

For example, when I graduated college, I would tell myself and all my friends and family that I wanted to take an extended international trip. “I want to travel. I want to go on a trip that’s at least a month long to a place I’ve never been.” I waited tables full time and moped around wishing this trip would magically happen. After 6 months, I realized it wasn’t going to magically happen. So I packed up, moved back in with my mom to save, got a bartending job, and put as much as I could into my savings. And then it happened! I backpacked through 11 countries in Europe and Asia! And it changed my life. But it wouldn’t have happened unless I had taken the responsibility for not showing up for myself before. I will travel again in 2020. :)

Be kind, generous, and supportive with yourself — All things in your life, good or bad, change or no change, starts with you.

This is not my opinion, it’s actually a fact, that failure and hardship is going to happen. And that’s okay! Again, you’re only human. But when failure occurs, try taking a step back (physically, emotionally, mentally) and reflecting. Acknowledge yourself for the work you put in so far. Honor yourself for showing up and trying. 

How would you treat you, if you were your friend? Read that again.

I, for one, am usually really hard on myself, constantly striving for perfection. December of 2017, I graduated, and based off the information I shared on my usual holiday season, I’m sure you can imagine how crazy excited I was. The beginning of 2018 AND 2019, I was like, “Yes, this is the year I get my f***ing s**t together!” Long story short, they weren’t. And I didn’t let myself forget it. I was hyper-focused on my lack of a career that I kept pushing myself down this stairway to despair. It didn’t matter that I have 2 Bachelor’s Degrees. It didn’t matter that I went on a 3-month backpacking trip through Europe and Asia. It didn’t matter that I got certified as a life coach. It didn’t matter that I packed up and relocated my life again for a new start. It didn’t matter that I was voted Bartender Rookie of the Year by my coworkers within 3 months of working at a new job. I didn’t have my s**t together, and that’s all I could see.

I’m not saying it will be easy, especially if you’re anything like me. But it wasn’t until I took that step back to reflect on all the amazing things that I did and experienced, that I could rekindle my relationship with myself and spark that motivation to be better. It wasn’t until then that I could trust myself again enough to want to be better.

Change is hard. You will have to shift your momentum in a new direction, you will have to understand that things will be different, you will have to understand that you have to be different. But, I can only assume because you read this far that this change is really important to you, so I have faith that you will follow through. Hold on to that sparkling motivation and start showing up as the person you want to be!

Okay, sorry to get so real for a second. But seriously! You’re not alone, and you’re soooo close to making the changes you want to make. January isn’t over yet. There is still time to make those New Year’s Resolutions. And whether you want to create this change now, or in a couple months from now, just remember to Be Realistic in creating goals, Take Responsibility for the actions you do or do not take, and Be Kind to Yourself even when you didn’t reach your desired outcomes. You can do this!