How to Make New Year’s Resolutions That Work

Setting New Years ResolutionsMaking New Year’s resolutions is a common practice. The New Year is viewed as a symbolic new start for something better.

As the end of the year approaches, we tend to reflect on what has happened and what we’ve done before we turn the page over and start another year.

My younger self would begin each new year hopeful and with a bunch of resolutions, but, eventually, forget that I’d set any. I may remember about them at the end of the year only to notice that I hadn’t progressed much (if at all) in what I was willing to do or change.

At some point, I stopped making them altogether, because, well, why bother?

Does that sound familiar? You’re not alone. Statistically, about 80% of people who set New Year’s resolutions fail within 30 days and less than 8% actually follow through with theirs.

That doesn’t mean that resolutions don’t work or that there’s something wrong with you. Rather, it’s the way you go about making your resolutions. Let me explain.

Do your New Year’s resolutions sound like this: “Eat healthier,” “Do yoga,” ““Travel more,” “Lose weight,” “Spend more time with family,” “Save more money?” Yes?

Then the reason they don’t stick is because …

Your New Year’s Resolutions Aren’t SMART

My husband runs a marketing company, and his job is to help people achieve their business goals. He has people come to him with requests like these: “I want to make more sales,” “I want to get more customers,” “I want to be able to quit my job and live completely off of this entrepreneurial idea that I have.” And these people are seeking his help because they haven’t been able to achieve that by themselves.

That’s because to achieve the goals they need to be SMART. In the marketing world, SMART is an acronym for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Timely.

So, instead of trying to “make more sales,” a client should aim for something like: “I would like to make $5,000 in sales by the 1st of July”. And voila, there’s a goal you can actually reach.

The same approach works for New Year’s resolutions and any goals, really.

So…

Tips to Make SMARTer New Year’s Resolutions

1. Set Goals that You Can Actually Achieve

There’s nothing wrong with dreaming big. You absolutely should. However, be sure not to go for goals greater than you can handle, at least at this very moment.

If you know that you have problems following through with your New Year’s resolutions, set yourself for success and start smaller. Set goals that you know you’ll be able to attain.

Imagine that you want to eat healthier. Rather than completely changing your diet, start, for example, by cutting out soda or choosing fruit instead of cake for dessert. If you get the good feeling of having successfully done something, you’re going to more willing to continue with bigger and scarier goals.

2. Be Specific

If you set abstract goals such as “Save more money,” “Lose weight,” “Start a home yoga practice,” you have no idea whether you have reached it or not because you have nothing specific to go for.

So, if you manage to save even 1 cent, lose just 1 gram, or do yoga at home only once, you can technically count that as both success and failure depending on how you interpret that.

Instead, be specific. “Save $2,000”, “Lose 5 pounds,” or “Do at least 20 minutes of yoga three times a week” are examples of resolutions that will allow you to track whether or not what you’re doing is helping you to achieve them.

3. Break Your Goals into Attainable Steps

When it comes to larger goals, you may have no idea where to start. They may be so intimidatingly big that you may feel scared to go for them.

Instead of going for something huge at once, break it down into manageable pieces. Same as if you were to eat pizza, you wouldn’t just take a bite off of the entire thing but would cut it into slices first.

So, grab a piece of paper, write down your goal and below list the objectives that you’d need to accomplish to reach it. Go online and do a search on what steps you need to take if you’re out of ideas.

For instance, if you want to save $2,000 in the following year,  divide the number by 12, the number of months in a year. You’ll get about $167, which is what you’d need to set aside every month. That isn’t bad at all, right?

Let’s try something different. Imagine that you’d like to adopt a healthier lifestyle. The smaller steps for this could be:

  • “working out twice a week,”
  • “going to yoga twice a week,”
  • “drinking 2 liters of water every day,” or
  • “going to bed before 11 PM every night.”

These would be smaller, not as scary, more manageable, and more concrete steps that you are going to be more likely to commit to.

4. Determine a Way of Tracking Your Progress

To keep yourself on track, find a way of holding yourself accountable for your progress. Though the method of doing that will depend on your goals and personality, one way I can suggest is keeping a planner.

It will not only make it easier for you fit the smaller steps towards your goals into your daily life and not forget about them, but also will allow you to look back at everything you’ve done throughout the entire year before you determine a new set of goals for the year to come.

Here’s a useful video on how you can do your monthly, weekly and daily as well as budget planning, and another one on setting up a bullet journal for a year from scratch, but, honestly, there are tons of videos on YouTube that you can watch to find what works best for you. This may seem like lots of work, but it’s worth it in the long run.

If you’re working toward a healthier diet or fitness goals, then you can also utilize websites or apps like MyFitnessPal. Though the first thing you see on their site is about losing weight and counting calories, don’t get deterred by that; it’s not all there is to their services.

You can also monitor your intake of water, protein, carbs, fats, different vitamins and minerals, which can give you a perspective on what your diet is like and what changes you can adapt to improve your lifestyle.

5. Set a Start Date and a Deadline

In a book called Stumbling on Happiness, I read about an experiment on how people react to future expectations. They were told that they had won a free dinner at a luxurious high-scale restaurant, and they could choose to have it the next day or the following week. The majority chose the latter.

It appears that humans get as much or even more satisfaction from imagining and anticipating something good. This is why they chose to wait longer so that they’d get more of that positive feeling.

The problem is that we may spend our entire lives fantasizing about having achieved our dreams without ever acting upon them.

Determining when you’re going to start and by when you’d like to have reached your goal will put you in a timeframe. You’ll be more likely to work for it rather than put it off.

And there you go. You can use these tips not only for New Year’s resolutions but pretty much any goals that you have.

Let’s Talk!

What would you like to work on next year? How will you make your goals SMART? Feel free to share any tips, tricks, or useful resources, as well.

And Happy New Year!

How to Make New Year's Resolutions That You Can Keep

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Categories: Personal Development

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