Ambitious people see New Year’s as more than parties and merry toasts and chances to butcher the song Auld Lang Syne. To many, New Year’s is a welcome chance to begin anew, with a fresh slate and plenty of time to make things better for the years to come.
According to the U.S. government, the most popular resolutions are losing weight, volunteering more, quitting smoking, and improving finances through a better education or changing jobs. Unfortunately, one-quarter of those yearly resolutions aren’t kept. Here’s how you can make an unbreakable New Year’s resolution and keep it.
Establish Realistic Goals
Often, resolutions fail because the goals weren’t realistic to begin with. Too many people set goals like, “Lose 50 pounds by Spring Break,” or “Save $10,000 before summer vacation,” when these things are physically impossible. Successful resolutions sound like this:
- I’m going to establish and stick to a good fitness program.
- I’m going to save $100 out of each paycheck.
- I’m going to start replacing cigarettes with nicotine patches.
These are manageable goals that make it clear what steps you need to take to meet those goals.
Give Yourself a Realistic Time Frame for Meeting Goals
Even if the goal itself is manageable (you can, after all, lose those 50 pounds), the time frame has to be reasonable to meet. With the example of weight loss, for instance, a good goal is losing about one to two pounds per week. So, losing 50 pounds should take you about 25 weeks, which is six months. Look at New Year’s Day as your starting point, and set your end point according to how long one would reasonably take to meet that particular goal.
Set Yourself Up for Success
Beginning a few weeks before the New Year, make plans for how you plan to achieve your goal. Some people motivate themselves by making signs to place around the house, encouraging them not to smoke or reminding them how important it is to stick to a diet. If weight loss is your goal, start looking for a good personal trainer or research holiday deals on gym memberships. If your goal is to eat healthier, research nutritious meal plans and have a few weeks’ worth of menus prepared for January and February. Lay out a path that will be easier for you to walk toward success.
Arm Yourself With a Support Network
This is often the most overlooked part of making New Year’s resolutions, but it can be one of the easiest to do. Find a few friends who can keep you accountable. Preferably, this network should include people who are also trying to meet the same goal, or have already done so successfully. If nobody in your current circle of friends is interested, find a support network on social media. There are tons of support groups there for most anyone, whether you’re trying to get fit to run a marathon, learn how to cook, save money by couponing, or just want to learn how to be a better parent.
Be Realistic About How Meeting the Goal Will Affect Your Life
Lastly, have realistic expectations about meeting your goal. Having goals, working hard to achieve those goals, and celebrating successes are all valuable and worthwhile. But losing weight or making more money or finally quitting smoking isn’t necessarily going to make your life perfect. Yes, things will be better and you’ll have something to be extremely proud of. Just don’t expect that meeting any one goal is going to fix every problem in your life. There will always be more things to work for and strive for — which is why you can look forward to next year’s New Year’s resolutions!
Make solid plans and pave the way before jumping into New Year’s resolutions, and instead of being the one in four who didn’t make it, you can enjoy being among the ones who did!