A New Year means a new start and 365 new opportunities to take action toward your goals. Now, many people will make New Year’s resolutions and that’s fine, but unfortunately, most will break them within a month. Studies* show that approximately only 8% of people will be successful in keeping their resolutions. That doesn’t mean there is no hope for making progress toward your goals. It simply means you have to go about seeking change differently, more strategically than simply creating abstract lists for your year.
Whether your New Year’s resolutions are personal or professional, consider the following five tips to ensure you fall into the rare 8% of successful resolution keepers.
- Be specific – Write down your resolutions and read them aloud every day. Be specific. “I want to lose 15 pounds by July 4th.” It’s also helpful to identify the real motivation behind your goals and resolutions. Do you want to lose weight just to look better on the beach or is it really about having more confidence and feeling healthy?
- Be realistic – Setting “absolutes” is also a trap for failure. If you eat chocolate daily, saying you want to give up chocolate completely might not be realistic. While your ultimate goal may be to give up chocolate, it is discouraging to know that you broke your resolution if you give in just one time. Try cutting back to once a week, then once a month, until you are chocolate free by the end of the year. (PSA: I don’t recommend ever being completely chocolate free.)
- Set priorities – As much as we like to think we can lose 15 pounds as we learn how to croquet underwater while picking up a second language and then reading three books in that new language, be careful not to bite off more than you can chew. Pick two or three resolutions that truly mean the most to you. Save the rest for next year.
- Build a timeline – Trying to change your entire life, routine and habits in one day is setting yourself up for failure. Create a timeline to break up the behaviors you want to change, one at a time, to make it more manageable. Also, build in rewards along the way to keep yourself motivated and encouraged throughout the process. Most importantly, hold yourself accountable to your plan and follow through.
- Tell someone – One of the top indicators that someone will stay on track with their New Year’s resolutions is if they share them with others who will hold them accountable. Share your goals with people who are supportive, positive and will give you a kick in the pants when you need it.
It really is possible to make 2017 your best year ever. Best of luck to you in achieving your goals and resolutions this year!
* University of Scranton research