Seven Steps to Successful New Year’s Resolutions

As the holidays wrap up and the new year approaches, you are likely reflecting on the past year and the progress you have made. This time of the year is also a time to think about the future and many people, roughly 45 percent of Americans, plan on making at least one New Year’s resolution.

While many people make resolutions, only 8 percent keep them. This is a staggeringly small number that can be discouraging to those who want to make a real change in their life. If you are thinking about setting New Year’s resolutions, follow these tips to help keep your resolutions all year long.

1. Define Your “Why”

Resolutions that you make for the sake of others are much less likely to stick than those that you make for yourself. Studies show that willpower and resolve to keep difficult goals depletes more quickly in those working towards goals set by others rather than themselves. Thinking critically about why you want to change can help you stay on track when keeping your goal gets hard. The resolutions you set should be tied to areas of your life that are of high priority. Take time to visualize what your life will be like if you stay on course and achieve your goal.

  1. 2. Limit Your Resolutions

The Harvard Business Review suggests you should never focus on more than three goals at a time. If you are planning on setting a large resolution that is going to take a great amount of effort, consider sticking to one goal. Limiting the number of resolutions you make allows you to devote more time and energy to the goals you have set and help prevent discouragement. Think of your willpower as a muscle. If you are stretching it in too many ways, trying to keep too many goals that go against your nature, you will likely become fatigued and give up. By limiting your goals, you can ensure that you have enough willpower to achieve them.

  1. 3. Set Measurable and Attainable Goals

“I am going to eat healthy” is not a good goal because it is difficult to measure and is absolute. You are probably not always going to eat healthy. Absolute goals are much less likely to be achieved and are often the first to fall by the wayside because they do not allow room for error. By setting clear, achievable goals such as “I will eat at least one fruit and one vegetable every day”, you are much more likely to find success.

  1. 4. Break Your Goal Into Smaller Goals

It’s easy to become discouraged when faced with a daunting goal. Breaking up large goals that are going to take a long time to complete into smaller tasks can increase your likelihood of success and help you avoid discouragement. If you want to lose 40 pounds, work towards losing 5 pounds at a time. This is an attainable goal that you can complete in a shorter period of time. Breaking up goals also gives you the opportunity to celebrate success along the way.

  1. 5. Make A List of Things Not to Do

The things you need to avoid to meet your goals can be just as important as the things you need to do to achieve them. If your goal is to exercise everyday after work, you may resolve to stop eating a sugary treat at the end of your day that makes you feel lethargic. If you are trying to eat healthier, you may resolve not to visit a tempting restaurant where you are likely to make poor food choices.

  1. 6. Write Down Your Goals

Studies show that writing down your goals increases your odds of following through on your resolution. Writing your goal down and putting in a visible location (such as in your bathroom or on your computer screen) can make your goals feel more tangible and help keep them on your mind. Some experts recommend writing down your resolution everyday. This not only keeps your goals in the front of your mind, but can also help you realize when it is time to adjust and update them.

  1. 7. Make Yourself Accountable

Making yourself accountable is one of the best ways to ensure that you meet your goals, whether its public declarations or simple self check-ins. It’s best to share your goal with at least one friend and tell them about your progress periodically. This not only motivates you to have success to share, but also helps keep the resolution on your mind. If you are not comfortable sharing your goals with others, you can also be accountable to yourself. Set time aside every week to evaluate yourself and your progress. Having an evaluation form can help you track and measure your progress.

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