15 easy ways to keep yourself accountable this new year

2019 is going to be your year. You really can be the healthiest you’ve ever been this time around because we’ve found the secret formula.

New year, new you, right? Well, it’s not always that easy. We’ve all been there — New Years Eve comes and we make promises to ourselves; we’re going to be the healthiest, happiest, and best we can be! Sounds like a good goal, doesn’t it?

But then the end of January comes to a close, and our motivation starts to waver as the joy of the holidays trickles into hard, busy days and a routine that leaves us unable to catch our breath. March comes in the blink of an eye, and by the time July rolls around, our New Years resolutions seem like a far off dream. You know this cycle all too well, don’t you?

Well, it’s time to break the cycle — 2019 is going to be your year. You really can be the healthiest you’ve ever been this time around, because we’ve found the secret formula that the vicious, endless cycle has been missing: accountability. Holding yourself accountable to reach your goals ensures that when the going gets tough, you don’t give up.

And you know what happens when you don’t give up, right? It snowballs into bigger goals and even more motivation. By the time 2020 rolls around, maybe you won’t even feel the need to make any New Year’s resolutions at all.

With 15 easy ways, here’s how to hold yourself accountable to achieve your healthiest self, ever:

1. Get in the right mindset

Before setting your goals, you must know your “why.” Take some time reflecting or journaling on why accomplishing this goal is important to you, and how it will make a difference in your life. So when you’re going through the day-to-day, you won’t be thinking, “I have to wake up at 6am to exercise.” You’ll be thinking, “I want to wake up at 6am to exercise, because it makes me feel so much happier and healthier throughout the day if I get a workout in in the morning.” Know your “why” and remind yourself of it daily.

2. Prepare what you need in advance

Do you prefer morning workouts? Lay out all your clothes next to your bed, and even untie your sneakers so they’re ready to go in the morning. Pack up your gym bag or prepare anything else you need, like setting out your water bottle and car keys. If you workout in the afternoons and your lifestyle allows it, consider wearing your workout clothes before your workout, like when you’re running errands or doing work. Having everything ready to go will make it so much easier to get yourself to workout, and will put you in the mindset that this workout will happen. Preparation also works for nutrition goals, too — meal prep makes it much less likely for you to resort to takeout after a busy workday or snack on unhealthy choices like chips and cookies.

3. Get an accountability buddy!

Have a friend or work wife who also wants to stick to health goals? Make them your accountability buddy and motivate each other by exchanging healthy recipes, sending motivational quotes, and checking in to see how the other is feeling or keeping up with their goal. Yes, you should be holding yourself accountable, but it doesn’t hurt when someone else holds you accountable, too! You’ll be much more motivated feeling like you’re in this together.

4. Set specific small goals every week

“Lose 20 pounds” is a far off goal that will leave you disappointed and unmotivated — trust me. If you want to be healthier, set smaller, more specific (and non-scale related!) goals throughout each week to be a healthier you. On Sundays, think about what you want to achieve that you can manage in your lifestyle — fit in four workouts total, run three miles instead of your usual two, lift 10 extra pounds, or add greens to two meals a day. And then work up towards achieving your goal, so by the time the week is over, you’ll feel accomplished, proud of yourself, and more motivated to set harder goals for the next week.

5. Use apps to track your stats

Since it’s hard to always keep yourself accountable, why not let an app do it for you? There’s a reason heart rate monitor workouts like Orangetheory are so popular — you see the stats, so you know how hard you’re working, and whether or not you reached your goal. Consider a fitness tracker that will track activity like heart rate and steps, and then set goals based on what you can track (i.e. 13 minutes of 80 percent maximum heart rate, or 12,000 steps a day), so you know if you need to be working harder or putting in more effort. For nutrition, it’s also helpful to use a food tracker like My FitnessPal to see if you’re overeating or not getting all the nutrients your body needs. There’s no arguing with the hard facts!

6. Plan your workouts like you’re scheduling an appointment.

Try signing up for a workout class — the cancellation fee in itself will be enough to keep you accountable! If you workout with a trainer, that means you both must agree on a meeting time. Having a set plan will hold you accountable to show up, making it harder to make excuses not to. If you prefer solo workouts, don’t just plan to workout “sometime tomorrow” or whenever you “have time.” Guess what: you will never “have time!” Schedule workouts in advance, write them into your planner or calendar, and honor that workout — show up on time, be prepared — like you would any other appointment or meeting on your schedule.

7. Reward yourself for reaching small goals.

If you plan to workout four days a week for two weeks and reach that goal, or plan to eat healthy and end up resisting office rice krispy treats not once, not twice, but three times!? You deserve to be rewarded! Of course, your rewards should not be counterintuitive to your goal, like a “cheat meal” or piece of cake. That’s just training your brain to see your efforts as a have to and making unhealthy food the goal, instead. Try rewarding yourself with the leggings you’ve been wanting, a sports bra that you’ll love, or even a facial. Or plan yourself a movie night in at the end of the week, complete with homemade popcorn and a glass of wine (even goals can have a little fun!).

8. Workout with friends

Even with our busy lifestyle, we still want to fit in social time with all our best friends! That usually means an after work drink or meeting up for dinner, but why not make your social schedule healthier and more attune to your goals? Go on a walk to catch up with a friend instead of meeting for coffee. Cancel the brunch plans one week and schedule a spin class and post-workout smoothies with your girl friends. Not only will you get the quality time in a healthier way, but working out with a friend or two will hold you accountable to make sure you don’t skip the workout.

9. Journal your progress

Here at The Everygirl, we could talk about the benefits of journaling until we’re blue in the face (and often do!). It creates a space for mindfulness, thoughtfulness, and purpose, and can help you achieve all of your goals. Get a journal that’s specific for your health goals (like here and here), so you can record your progress. You can also use any blank notebook (or the notes in your phone!) and every day, write about what you did towards your specific goal, and how you felt during the day.

Not only will journaling about your goals on a daily basis keep you motivated and proud of yourself, but knowing you’re tracking your daily progress will hold you accountable. It’s a lot less tempting to skip the workout or order takeout when you know you’ll feel so much less proud of yourself when you’re writing about it later.

10. Have a plan B

So you slept through your alarm and missed your morning workout? Or are feeling under the weather and just don’t want to go to spin class? Have an easy and flexible backup plan so that you just don’t completely give up when your plan doesn’t work out. Going on a 30-minute walk after dinner or doing a yoga YouTube video before hopping in the shower are great ways to fit in movement and keep yourself feeling motivated and good about your goals, even when your plan doesn’t work out. Having a backup that you don’t need to schedule when your plan falls through is crucial to staying on track.

11. Create a vision board

Surround yourself with images and words that are motivating to you. If mantras are your thing, come up with your own, write it down, and post it on your mirror or somewhere where you’ll see it often. You can also start a vision board filled with motivating images like a picture of yourself from when you remember feeling healthy and happy, or a magazine cut-out of someone achieving your goal (like crow pose or running a 5k). You can also post healthy recipes you’ve liked, or pictures of women you admire for their drive and ambition. Visually seeing your goal as often as possible will keep you motivated.

12. Find ways to stick to your goals that are enjoyable for you.

If you want to eat healthy but hate salad, don’t eat salads! If you want to get fit but can’t run a mile to save your life, don’t force yourself to run right off the bat. Instead, find the things you enjoy — the foods you like, the exercises that make you have fun or feel centered. Learning how to enjoy achieving your goals is much more likely to make them stick long-term than forcing yourself to eat or do things you don’t enjoy. Instead of the same old salad and chicken breast every day of the week, get invested in cooking and trying new things. Experiment with healthy recipes like crockpot curries or spaghetti squash, and test out workouts to find one that you’ll not only enjoy, but will look forward to doing, like a dance class or yoga routine. It will be the easiest and most fun way to reach your goals, ever!

13. Build your own habits

Thanks to Beyoncé, we know that it takes 22 days to create a habit. Think about what little habits you could make to help yourself achieve your goals. Would an hour of uninterrupted phone time a day help you stay motivated? Would getting to bed an hour earlier make it easier for you to wake up for your morning workout? What about snacking on carrots instead of pita chips when you’re hungry before dinner? Commit to building smaller, healthier habits for just 22 days, and watch how easy it is for you to stick to them. After a while, getting enough sleep, choosing the healthier snack, or doing something good for yourself really will just become, well, habit.

14. Read, listen to, or watch something positive every day.

I love Real Housewives just as much as the next girl, but let’s be real — bingeing it every night before bed certainly does not help out with health goals. Instead, listen to a motivating podcast on your way to work, read a chapter from a self-improvement book before bed, or if reality shows really are more your cup of tea, stream a show like Queer Eye that will inspire you to be your best self. Filling your time with inspiration and motivation will make you excited to reach your goals.

15. Look for one small victory every day.

Every single day, look for a victory you made towards your final end goal. It could be that your jeans are fitting looser, or that you did an extra 10 crunches, made a smoothie for breakfast instead of getting an Egg McMuffin, or successfully turned down the donut at the office that day. Feeling like you’re accomplishing something, no matter how small, and making one small step (or pant size) towards your final goal feels much more motivating than a distant goal that feels out of reach. Let the victory in itself be its own goal, and get excited for whatever victories the next day will bring — you’ll reach your end goal in no time! 2020 will be so impressed.

This article first appeared on The EveryGirl.