It’s that time of year again when people begin to reflect on the past year and make a New Year’s resolution for the next. Resolutions are so important in order for us to continue to grow. If we don’t resolve to change or make a plan to get us to where we want to be, then we never do.
A University of Scranton study shows that only 8% of people achieve their New Year’s resolution. In fact, 80% of New Year’s resolutions fail by February! Clearly, keeping a New Year’s resolution isn’t easy peasy, but it is possible. The key here is figuring out what made the difference for the ones who were successful.
And I’m here to help you be part of the 8% who succeed.
Why do people fail to keep their New Year’s resolution?
But first, why do people fail to keep their resolutions? It may be that they didn’t take it seriously enough. Or they didn’t put enough thought into it. But, I think it’s more than that.
Like with any goals, resolutions are doomed to failure if they are too large or not specific enough. It’s important to be realistic when you are deciding on your New Year’s resolution.
A resolution that is too massive to be reasonably attainable will just cause stress and overwhelm. And, a resolution that isn’t specific enough makes it hard to really know how to move forward.
If your resolution isn’t super clear, how can you make it happen and how do you know when you have achieved it?
Another reason people don’t keep their New Year’s resolutions is that they fail to create a plan. You may have a goal to lose 10 pounds this year, and that’s great. But, what is your plan to get there? Without a plan, a resolution is just a wish or pipe dream.
A resolution is a firm decision to do or not to do something. It isn’t wishy-washy or wishful thinking. It is a firm decision. And when you make a firm decision, you take action.
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How do I choose my New Year’s resolution?
First, reflect on this last year.
What went well? What didn’t go so well? Did you do anything that you wish you didn’t? Did you not do something that you wish you would have?
Usually, when I do this, there’s a theme that presents itself. Maybe most of the things I notice involve my body, so I decide to focus on eating healthy and exercising next year.
Or, maybe I mostly notice how little time I spent on writing or spending time with friends. Then I might choose to focus on improving my writing and spending quality time with my friends in the new year.
Second, pick an area where you need to see a change because until you need it, you won’t work for it.
I may want to have more energy, but I won’t do anything about it until I need to have more energy. This means that I need to have the motivation to change.
I need to see my lack of energy and how it is affecting me and those around me. I need to see my energy for what it could be and all of the benefits it would have on my life.
**If your goal is about decluttering this year, check out this post about decluttering your life!**
Third, write your New Year’s resolution.
Writing it down makes it feel more official. I am a HUGE fan of writing everything down…so that I remember things and so I stay on track. Following are some guidelines for writing your New Year’s resolution.
Guidelines for writing your New Year’s resolution
- Make your goal practical. This is not where you need to “go big or go home”. Make sure that the goal you write is realistic. I’m not saying you shouldn’t push yourself, because you should. But, don’t make your goal so big that you will be stressed out every day trying to meet it. Instead, keep it simple! Don’t expect to accomplish in one year what usually takes a lifetime.
- Make your goal clear. You don’t want your goal to be too vague. You want it to be tangible. Instead of writing your goal as “lose weight”, try something like, “lose 12 pounds” or “drop 3 pant sizes and 5 inches around my waist”. Be as specific as possible. That way, you will know EXACTLY where you are in relation to your goal. And, you will know without a doubt when you have met your goal.
- Make your goal actionable. You need to be able to have benchmarks throughout the year to help you stay on track. So, break your goal down into smaller parts. Once you have met your first small goal, you are ready to move on to the next, even if you are ahead of schedule. Going with the example of losing 12 pounds, you could have smaller goals like “lose 3 pounds by the end of March, 6 pounds by the end of June, 9 pounds by the end of September, and 12 pounds by the end of December”.
How do I stick to my New Year’s resolution?
One thing that will really help you stick to your New Year’s resolution for the entire year is what we just talked about: breaking down your resolution into smaller goals.
This tactic alone will really help you stay on track because your resolution will be much more manageable. Also, it will help you stay motivated when you see the small goals you meet along the way!
This motivation will keep you going until the next benchmark you’ve placed for yourself.
Another way to stay motivated throughout the year is to put reminders and motivation right into your calendar.
Remember those benchmarks? Put them in your calendar and set reminders so you don’t forget or lose sight of your goals. Even more, remind yourself what motivated you to create this New Year’s resolution in the first place.
Let’s say my resolution is about making a deeper connection with my friends. In the middle of February, I might remind myself what it felt like to be lonely during a difficult time. Or, I might motivate myself by thinking of all the fun things I may get to do with a friend.
Last, don’t completely give up if you don’t meet one of your smaller benchmark goals. Keep going wherever you left off.
Getting a little sidetracked doesn’t need to derail your entire year!
New Year’s resolutions are important for your growth, so they need to be practical, clear, and actionable. Besides that, the best way to keep your resolution is to make a plan that includes reminders and motivation throughout the year.
What is your New Year’s resolution? What is your plan to get there? Share with us in the comments!