A lot of people are dreaming or talking about New Year’s resolutions, but few are making those dreams a reality. According to statistics, only about 9% of Americans say they’re successful at achieving their New Year’s resolutions, which is quite a low number considering all the attention these ideas receive around this time of year. If you’d like to be among those people who achieve their resolutions, check out this guide.
Have you made your resolutions for 2018 yet? Either way, it's never too late to make or change your resolutions. There’s nothing magical about the evening of December 31 for resolving to make changes in your life. The first step to achieving your resolutions is to make those resolutions in the first place. People who explicitly make their resolutions are 10 times more likely to report that they’ve attained their goals than people who vaguely assess their accomplishments.
When defining your resolutions, be specific. Ambiguous or broad goals may as well be no goals at all. For example, “Lose weight” is a desire, but it’s not really a good measurable goal. How much weight are you seeking to lose? “Lose 20 pounds” is a more specific goal.
If possible, split your resolutions into smaller chunks that you can tackle throughout the year. Not only will these smaller goals appear less intimidating in your mind, but you’ll gain a sense of accomplishment as you successfully meet your regular milestones. If your goal is to “Lose 20 pounds,” consider reformulating it as “Lose two pounds per month.” Yes, that monthly goal would amount to 24 pounds lost during the year. That means you’ll either exceed your initial goal -- which would be wonderful, right? -- or you’ll have a buffer allowing you to fall short a couple months.
Be realistic. Are you endeavoring to make these changes so they’ll get done, or are you just trying to make yourself feel good at the beginning of the year for making wonderful promises to yourself? Give yourself a fighting chance by setting your targets at levels you can definitely meet if you try your best.
On that note, mix easily achievable resolutions with the harder ones. Let’s say you would like to mend your relationship with your older brother, who lives 2,000 miles away and who you haven’t spoken to in over a year. One measurable goal towards mending that relationship would be “Call my brother.” Who can’t pick up a phone and dial a number, right? A harder goal would be “Visit my brother,” because he lives so far away. Even if you only achieve the first goal, you’ve still made good progress on your resolution to mend that relationship.
Give yourself an official call to action. Kick off your resolutions with a clear commitment to yourself. Write them down and read them out loud to yourself. For example, “I commit to lose two pounds per month this year.”
Committing once to your resolutions is good, but recommitting is even better. Set a schedule for checking in on your progress. Use a calendar, sticky notes, or reminders on your phone.
Don’t be afraid to adjust your resolutions as your circumstances change. Lowering a goal threshold is better than giving up on it altogether. Just be honest with yourself.
Share your resolutions with friends and family, and give them updates. Posting your resolutions on Facebook is a good way to reinforce accountability. Ask for help. Your friends can coach you. While you’re at it, help your friends keep their resolutions.
Lastly, when figuring out your resolutions, consider giving to others. We tend to look inwardly when making resolutions, but it’s also important to think about how you can help other people. There are tons of opportunities for charitable giving all year round, and soup kitchens are always looking for volunteers. “Almost 40,000 veterans are homeless on any given night,” says Rose Burberry-Martin, marketing director for the law firm of Chisholm, Chisholm, and Kilpatrick LTD, which specializes in veterans appeals. “If your town has a homeless problem, you can give away some blankets or an old tent. These are easy and achievable goals.”
2018 is the year for achieving your resolutions. What are you waiting for?