The start of a New Year is the perfect time to turn a new page, which is probably why so many people make New Year’s resolutions. The New Year often feels like a fresh start and a great opportunity to change bad habits and establish new routines that will help you grow psychologically, emotionally, socially, physically, or intellectually. Of course, resolutions are much easier to make than to keep, and by the end of March, many of us have abandoned our resolve and settled back into our old patterns. So, what can you do to make it more likely that you will keep your next resolution? The following tips may help you beat the odds.
Focus on one goal at a time: Achieving even one small goal can boost your belief in yourself. For larger goals, consider breaking them apart into manageable chunks to work on one at a time. Focusing on just one behavior at a time is more likely to lead to long-term success.
Make a detailed plan: You can start by writing down your goal, making a list of things you might do to achieve that goal, and noting any obstacles that might stand in your way. By knowing exactly what you want to accomplish and the difficulties you might face, you’ll be better prepared to stick to your resolution and overcome anything that might sidetrack you.
Make it Fun: Most of us strive for efficiency when it comes to achieving our goals. If you want to get fit, you figure a punishing workout will be just the thing to produce rapid progress. If you want to ace a class, you assume long, distraction-free study sessions are key. But research has shown that focusing on efficiency can leave you high and dry because you’ll neglect an even more important part of the equation: whether you enjoy the act of goal pursuit. If it’s not fun to exercise or study, you’re unlikely to keep at it. But if you get pleasure from your workouts or study sessions, you’ll persist longer. And in the end, that’s what often matters most to achieving a New Year’s resolution.
Learn from the past: Any time you fail to make a change, consider it a step toward your goal. Why? Because each sincere attempt represents a lesson learned. When you hit a snag, take a moment to think about what did and didn’t work. Maybe you took on too big a challenge? If so, scale back to a less ambitious challenge, or break the big one into tinier steps.
Make a resolution journal: Consider keeping a resolution journal where you can write about your successes and struggles. Write down the reasons why you are working towards your goal so that you can refer to them during times when you feel uninspired and unmotivated. Think about what is causing you to falter and how to cope with it effectively. If you are writing down your strategies and progress, you will have ready proof of your efforts if you ever feel like giving up.
Making a change can be hard, but it doesn’t have to be. Remember to be kind and flexible with yourself and to celebrate any and all progress along the way. It’s not just the end goal that matters—it’s the journey along the way.