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If you enlist Google to assist you in finding that perfect resolution, you’ll find yourself inundated with lists and ideas galore! And they’re all fantastic, but are they all right for you? I know what you’re thinking, “Of course not, I’m not going to do everything!” But what about the resolution(s) you do choose? Are you sure you’re setting you and your pet-child up for success? Or will you crumble from the pressure by February? If you’re serious about achieving your goals in 2021, keep reading for some tips on successful goal-setting. In fact, this is a 2-for-1 special; you can use these tips not only for setting pet New Year’s resolutions, but also for general goal setting throughout the year. 

  1. DO make the resolution realistic! 

As I mentioned, there are a ton of great ideas on the internet for New Year’s Resolutions. But remember, they’re just ideas. There’s no rule that says you have to set a lofty goal; in fact, you shouldn’t. Consider your own capabilities and those of your pet – participating in a 5K is an amazing goal but if you were sedentary all of 2020, it wouldn’t make sense to set a resolution to enter you and your pet into a 5K by February 2021. Setting yourself up for failure will only discourage you further – it’s better to think small because hitting your goals and then growing them into more will always feel more encouraging than having to scale back from doing too much. 

2. DON’T be scared to dream!

While you do want to think from a realistic standpoint about the capabilities and abilities of both you and your pet, the possibilities are always endless! Take some time to find that perfect balance between reaching for the stars and staying grounded in reality. Goals should push us to a better place, so dream big! Remember, old dogs CAN learn new tricks!

3. DO hold yourself (and your pet) accountable!

There are tons of fun ways to do this! Have a quantifiable resolution (ie. walk every day)? Buy a fun stamp or some stickers and mark your calendar. Hang the calendar somewhere you’ll see it every day – maybe near your pet’s food bowls or next to the coffeepot 😉 Regardless of where you put it, this calendar will be a daily reminder of what you’re working towards. Still working on self-accountability? Try telling a trusted friend or join a social group (there are a ton of FB groups these days!!) to get some people in your corner to check in with you regularly about your goals.

But the best way to hold yourself accountable is…. 

4. DO write down your resolution!

Taken pen to paper… And be specific! Business Insider wrote an article back in 2018 where they spoke with a psychotherapist about why so many New Year’s resolutions fail. One of the 3 reasons stated was lack of specificity. We all need reminders – some of us more than others! I suggest grabbing a sticky note and placing it on your bathroom mirror. Or making a vision board – it may not seem like your style, but quite literally vision boards are whatever you want them to be. Another tip from the same article discussed the wording of New Year’s resolutions. Change from a negative mindset (“stop doing…”, “quit”, etc) to a positive one (“start doing…”, “spend more time”, etc). Doing this gets the focus off of your bad habits and onto the good habits you want to develop and maintain. 

5. DON’T try to rush the process. 

The process is important; setting goals is easy but putting in the work to achieve them can be tough. This is why it’s so important to break down your big dreams into more realistic and specific short-term goals. The short-term goals give you small wins to keep you going on the days motivation is low or the dream seems out of reach. Joining an accountability group (as mentioned previously) is a great way to stay connected to the process as everyone is going through it together, especially when pets are involved! Maybe there’s a specific challenge that you or your animal faces, an accountability group may exist specifically for said challenge, allowing you the ability to get even greater support as you work towards your goal. BUT in the same vein…

6. DON’T become distracted by social media.

Very rarely is anyone 100% transparent on social media. Just remember that! There’s absolutely nothing wrong with celebrating others’ victories; just don’t allow others’ victories to cause you to doubt your own process. You have no idea how long or how much work went into it – and also their life is not your life. Don’t let comparison come in – all it will do is steal your motivation, kill your dream, and destroy any progress made! You and your pet deserve better!

7. DO lead with grace!

Setting and achieving self-directed goals can be challenging. And let’s be honest, you’re probably not setting hard enough goals for yourself if you think it’s a walk in the park. Talk about adding in a pet and things just (potentially) got 10x harder, because pets have minds of their own.  There are going to be days you or your pet simply don’t feel like it or you get off track. That’s what tomorrows are for – another day to try again and be better than you were the day before. That goes for you and it goes for your pet. Maybe your resolution is to walk 1 mile everyday; if one day your pet can only make it 0.75 miles, remember that it’s more than nothing! And tomorrow, you can push for 1 mile. But…

8. DON’T forget to rest! 

Your pet needs it. Your body needs it. Your mind needs it. And I promise you will be grateful for the reminder. We’re not robots. 

9. DO have fun and 

10. DON’T give up!!!!!!!

New Year’s resolutions are meant to be fun! Hanging out with your pet should already be fun! So putting the two together ought to be a blast!! Keep all of these tips in mind as you go about setting your 2021 goals, but if you forget everything in this article, I hope you at least walk away with this: take it one day, one step, at a time. You will see success if you trust the process, have fun, and never give up! Even if May rolls around and you’ve not done a single thing, don’t give up. Start right then and there. 

Written and contributed by: Keesha Lockette, Pet Sitter

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