By: Lisa Truesdale
It’s that time of year again, when everyone starts talking about all the changes they want to make come January 1. Talk of “resolutions” is everywhere—on social media, during TV commercials, and standing around the water cooler. Then it gets us thinking about all we want to accomplish in the coming year, too, so we start making promises to ourselves that will be really hard to keep. That’s where it gets tricky: though the numbers vary a bit, experts believe that only eight percent of people are able to keep their New Year’s resolutions. Ouch!
Here are eight tips for making a resolution you can keep—although you’ll have to say goodbye to the word “resolution”!
1. Ditch the usual vocab.
First of all, stop calling it a “resolution.” If it’s true that only eight percent keep theirs, it means the other 92 percent feel they failed. So that means the word has likely taken on a negative connotation—and that could also be the reason for some failures. Instead, choose a more positive word like “goal” or “plan.”
2. Be positive.
Don’t choose a goal that includes negative words like “quit” or “stop,” and don’t use absolutes like “never” or “always.” Instead of proclaiming that your resolution is to “quit smoking forever,” for example, try something like “My goal is to find ways to lead a healthier lifestyle, and that includes eventually eliminating cigarettes.”
3. Be specific.
Try not to make your plan too broad or too unrealistic, or you’re increasing the chances that you won’t be able to meet the challenge. So for instance, instead of saying “My resolution is to lose 50 pounds,” try something a little more specific, like “My goal is to lose at least five pounds in the first month.” If you want to cut out sugar, don’t say, “My resolution is to stop eating sweets”; say something like, “My plan is to cut my sugar intake by at least half in the first month.”
4. Take baby steps.
Break a larger goal down into smaller steps that are easier to meet. Don’t just say, “I want to save money”; outline how you want to save money. Formulate a solid plan, like investigating ways to cut household bills first, then having a percentage of your paycheck automatically sent to a savings account, then calling your insurance agent to review all possible discounts. Once you achieve a small goal along your journey, you’re more likely to set another, and another, and so on, until you end up meeting the larger goal anyway.
5. Tell your friends and family.
Repeat your goals aloud in front of others and you’re more likely to stick to them, because you’ll feel accountable. Surround yourself with people who will encourage you with “How’s your plan going?” and “Good job” rather than disheartening comments like, “What? How could you have eaten that candy bar?!”
6. Give yourself a break.
Exercising self-restraint is hard work! If you get stressed out while trying to stick to your goal, find something to take your mind off of it. When you’re trying to lose weight, for example, give yourself permission to walk away from the co-worker offering up the chocolate cake—but then go make yourself a soothing cup of tea, or take a break and get some fresh air.
7. Reward yourself.
Made it to the end of January with your goal met? Great, time to celebrate! Choose a little reward completely unrelated to your goal, then do yourself the best favor of all and formulate another plan for February.
8. Don’t give up!
If you followed any or all of the tips above and you still didn’t meet your goal, it’s okay. At least you made the goal in the first place, which means that you know it’s a change you really want to make. Just dust yourself off and try again—and you don’t have to wait until the new year rolls around once more.