How to Make (and Keep) Your New Year’s Resolutions
At the start of every year, many of us find ourselves wondering how to keep the New Year’s resolutions we’ve set for ourselves. It’s a well-known joke that the gym crowds surge in January, only to thin back out by mid-February. Sometimes, it almost seems like resolutions are just meant to be broken. But trust us, resolutions are good, productive ways to set goals and intentions for the new year. Deciding to make positive changes is always a good idea.
Often, what we don’t realize is that the problem isn’t that we aren’t capable of sticking to our resolutions—it’s that we need to do a better job making resolutions that are actionable and achievable. Otherwise, it’s almost like setting yourself up to fall short.
If you want to set yourself up for the best chance of success, start with these smart tips for making better resolutions you can actually stick to.
1. Make smaller resolutions
You think: “I’m going to spend less, work out more, and get promoted.” All great aspirations, but creating a resolution that’s too big sets you up for failure. The first key to success is zeroing in on one goal, not three. Then do a quick reality check.
2. Get specific with your goals
“Save money” is another good goal. But how? And how much? Without some definable parameters, your best intentions can get lost in the shuffle. The more detailed you can be, the easier it is to stay focused. Setting small, specific goals also keeps you encouraged along the way—each time you meet one, you have reason to celebrate your progress.
3. Write down your goals
People who write down their goals feel a greater sense of accountability and have a much higher chance of accomplishing them. Post your goals on your fridge, write them in dry-erase marker on the bathroom mirror, or write them down in a journal.
4. Make your resolutions public
We’re more likely to achieve our resolutions when we make them public. Tell your best friend about your New Year’s resolution, and check in with her on the reg to chat about it and make sure you’re on track. Better yet, get her on board so you’re both working toward the same goal.
5. Plan your followthrough
Your resolution should never just be another item on your to-do list. Plot out a monthly budget or schedule a week’s worth of workouts each Sunday so you don’t have to think about how to fit it all in. And attach your goal to another activity. For instance, if you want to meditate more, plan a nightly session for right after brushing your teeth.
6. Check in with yourself regularly
Reassessing your goal throughout the weeks and months it takes to get there is essential. Once you start making changes, you may find your original goal was a little unrealistic. Instead of sticking with it once you find it’s probably not possible, feel free to tweak the goal as you see fit. Look at your lifestyle and revise your goals to make sure they really work fit in.
7. Celebrate small successes
It’s crucial to recognize and reward the smaller successes along the way. Rather than waiting until you’ve shed all 10 pounds, give yourself a mini “Yay, me!” celebration each time you drop 2. To help you track important milestones and stay motivated along the way, use your journal.
8. Remember that it’s OK to slip up (then get back on track!)
If you’ve faltered, know that you’re in good company. What really matters is how you handle it; there are those who spend several days feeling guilty over their misstep, and then those who acknowledge the screwup but get right back on track. Instead of stewing, figure out how to prevent it from happening again.
9. Don’t rely on others to get you where you’re going
Asking people for support is smart, but to make your resolution stick, now is the time to learn how to be your own cheerleader. In fact, relying too heavily on a pal or family member to get you to do something can actually decrease your motivation to work toward your goals, a study in Psychological Science found. Your boyfriend might be great at getting you out of bed for your morning jog, but what happens when he’s out of town? Without any motivation to hit the treadmill on your own, you and the snooze button will become BFFs. To remind yourself why this goal is important to you, write little notes and post them where you’ll see them—your desk, the mirror, and that snooze button.
10. Believe in yourself
“Whether you think you can or you think you can’t, you’re right.” – Henry Ford.
People say that they want to make a resolution, but they don’t believe that they can actually accomplish it. If you know you’re capable of making your desired change, then believe it wholeheartedly. When you reach your goal, it’s time to celebrate, of course. But it’s also time to plan how you’ll stick with them moving forward.