New Year’s resolutions: What to do if you already want to give up

Whether you overindulged at dinner, skipped your workout or hit snooze on your alarm (again) — don’t let one flub derail your New Year’s resolution progress. 

Life is unpredictable and setbacks are inevitable. 

One small setback doesn’t mean it’s time to throw away your resolution completely. 

It’s also worth noting that you’re not alone.

“While goals are motivating to some, they also may paralyze others who feel overwhelmed by the resolution,” Sabrina Romanoff, a clinical psychologist and professor at Yeshiva University in New York, told Fox News Digital. “Instead of motivating [people] to achieve the goal, it may cause them to feel stuck in achieving them if too improbable.”

New Year’s resolutions are a challenge, but there are plenty of things you can do to get back on track when you feel like giving up.

If you’ve fallen off the track and would like to recommit, here are tips on how you can still achieve your New Year’s resolutions.

1. Anticipate the obstacles while setting goals

A little planning can make a big difference, so if you’re having a hard time with your resolutions, carve out some time to write down new ones and map out any hurdles that you could see impeding your progress.  

“Make sure you consider the things that could get in the way of accomplishing your goal, and then build in ways to overcome those obstacles in your goal,” Romanoff said. 

“The problems will guide the way toward solutions. This will also bolster your resilience when you inevitably face setbacks.”

2. Transform your goals into values

This mindset shift can be huge in empowering you to stick to your New Year’s resolutions if things have veered way off course. 

“Values are never actually achieved. Rather, they operate as a compass, constantly informing and guiding our behaviors,” Romanoff said. 

When coming up with goals, think about the “why” behind them.

Romanoff said recognizing the “why” behind your goal will ground you in purpose and contextualize the resolution in a meaningful way.

3. Remember to be flexible

Extremely strict goals can leave you disappointed when they are not obtained. When creating your resolutions make them specific, but also manageable. 

Once your goals are established, they are not set in stone. 

Allow yourself the ability to revise goals when needed instead of immediately ditching them completely. 

“Do not hold these resolutions rigidly. Accommodating change and new revisions to resolutions is adaptive,” Romanoff advised.  

If you miss a goal, instead of giving up, try setting a more realistic one. 

For example, you may have the goal of working out six days a week. If it’s two weeks in, and you’re averaging three days a week, it may be best to modify your goal to working out three or four times a week. 

If you set a financial goal for yourself to save $1,000 per month but find yourself struggling to make ends meet, make an adjustment to $500 per month. 

You can always increase the amount once again when the time is right. 

Your resolutions may need adjustments throughout the year. Feel free to change things up when needed. (iStock)

You also may come up with new goals you want to add throughout the year. New Year’s isn’t the only time you can set goals for yourself. This can be done at any point throughout the year. 

4. Hoping to lose weight? Make a pledge not to diet in the New Year

If your goal was simply “weight loss,” and you’ve fallen off the wagon, nutritionists suggest banishing the phrase entirely. 

“Going on a diet come January 1 will consciously or subconsciously trigger a mental deprivation, and your body will react like it’s going into starvation mode. This influences how you behave around food and is the reason why you can’t pass on a doughnut in the break room, and feel stuffed and out of control,” Angela Houlie, a registered dietitian nutritionist and founder of My Fruitful Body Nutrition, based in New York, told Fox News Digital.

Instead, Houlie recommends shifting your mindset away from dieting and toward learning to listen to your body. 

“Take time to get in touch with your body’s natural hunger and fullness cues. Use a hunger and fullness scale to determine what and when to eat and stop the ‘good’ versus ‘bad’ food mentality,” she said. 

5. Make your resolutions as specific as possible

Vague or sweeping resolutions are the enemy of success, so if you’re having a hard time sticking to mega goals, consider zooming in on a micro goal you hope to accomplish.

“Goals must be specific, detailed and, most importantly, measurable. Rather than making a goal such as, ‘be more healthy,’ we may need something like ‘work out three times a week with one cheat food day in the week for two months,’” Marianna Strongin, a New York-based licensed clinical psychologist and founder of StrongInTherapy, told Fox News Digital.

Strongin also advised starting small. 

“One of the biggest mistakes people make in the beginning of the year is that they set a New Year’s resolution that is too hard or too large to accomplish. This creates feelings of defeat and negative self-esteem. Instead, start very small and build as you master each task,” she said.

Additionally, don’t create too many goals. With a long list of goals, it’s going to be nearly impossible to really dial in on a specific one. 

Instead, it’s a better idea to focus on a few really specific goals that you can easily measure success and remember throughout the year. 

Put your few specific goals in a spot that you see every day, so you don’t forget about the goals you set for yourself. 

6. Don’t beat yourself up

Would you say half the things you say in your internal dialogue with yourself to a loved one? Probably not. Extend that same kindness to yourself. “Give yourself grace for being human,” said registered dietitian Jenna Volpe, founder of Whole-istic Living, based in Austin, Texas.

“Focus on progress, not perfection. Remember that challenges and setbacks are a constant, not a variable, so you must come to terms with this and be at peace with sometimes taking two steps forward and one step back,” she added. 

“The most important thing is to learn from your setbacks, and then keep going — at a pace that feels realistic and sustainable for you!”

Don’t be hard on yourself when a goal isn’t going your way. For example, when it comes to fitness and weight loss, allow yourself to adjust your goals when needed in order to achieve success.

Resolutions should make you feel inspired, not discouraged. If resolutions are adding more stress to your life than good, it may be time to reassess. 

Sticking to resolutions is no easy feat, and it’s going to be a challenge. That said, resolutions should improve your life in some way. If they aren’t doing that, take another look at your goals and think about ways you can make changes so they better fit your lifestyle. 

7. Establish a reward to incentivize yourself to get back on track

Doing this can give you the motivation you need to recommit to your goals if you’ve strayed, whether you’re trying to cut back on drinking or read more books.

Pam Sherman, a certified personal trainer in California, highlighted the importance of setting up a reward for yourself after you’ve made progress toward your goal. For instance, take the popular goal of committing to a workout routine. 

“If your goal is to work out three times a week, and you [do] 12 or more workouts in a month, get a new gym outfit or gadget,” Sherman said. “Something that makes you want to keep going until you reach your goal!” 

Another idea: If your goal is to cook more instead of ordering takeout, treat yourself to a new set of cookware if you cook a certain number of meals.

If your goal is to read more books, once you read a determined number of books, treat yourself to an e-reader for an upgraded reading experience. 

8. Refocus by asking yourself, ‘What’s one new thing I can add to my routine?’

“When you focus on the process instead of the results, you will feel more empowered,” Annalicia Niemela, a certified holistic health coach and leader of the Exercise180 Movement, told Fox News. 

Examples of small, meaningful tweaks you can make to your daily life include drinking more water, breathing deeply for five minutes a day and adding vegetables or fruits to every meal. 

“See if you can do the new thing for 21 days in a row,” Niemela said. “When you set goals for shorter periods of time (21 days vs. an entire year), you will feel more successful as you go. From there, you can more easily build on the momentum of success.”

An example of a small attainable health goal is to drink more water. 

9. Know that it’s OK to nix some resolutions

Niemela said that if you blow your New Year’s resolution, it doesn’t mean you’re wrong — rather, “it means the resolution wasn’t right for you.” 

If it’s been a few weeks and your New Year’s resolution isn’t working for you, it’s OK. 

Not everyone is meant to meditate for 30 minutes a day or wake up at 6:00 a.m. 

Shift your focus from thinking you have to serve your resolution to committing to positive baby steps.

10. Celebrate your wins

Be positive about what you have accomplished, even if you haven’t done what you initially set out to, said Lara Days, a certified personal trainer and yoga teacher in Dallas, Texas.

Days says we are hardwired to feel like what we’re doing isn’t enough. Even if you didn’t stick to exactly what you pledged to do, acknowledge the positive things you did do. 

“The more we recognize the changes we are making, the more confidence we build and the more fun we have along the way,” Days said. “Acknowledging our progress is a crucial part of continuing along the journey.”

This article was written by Perri Ormont Blumberg who is a contributing lifestyle reporter for Fox News Digital.

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