New Year’s “resolutions” are often made at the beginning of the year. We resolve to exercise more, eat healthier, pursue career aspirations, spend less time online, or work on our relationships. However, the truth is one in three people abandon their resolutions by the end of January — citing lack of time or commitment to the goals to begin with.
If you are serious about sticking to your resolutions, there are some solid methods that may increase your chances for success.
Change is never easy — it requires soul-searching and resolve — but the results of working toward positive transformation can offer you renewed confidence and a more purposeful outlook for the future.
Consider these ten tips to help you establish, achieve and maintain your objectives:
1. Set SMART goals.
The most critical component of sticking to a resolution is setting it. SMART is an acronym for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Time-bound. For instance, “I want to lose weight” is not a goal — “I want to lose 10 pounds by March” is more specific, measurable and incorporates a deadline.
2. Write down your goals.
This will force you to clarify what you want and motivate you to take action. A study from the Dominican University of California found that people who wrote down their goals, shared this information with a friend, and sent weekly updates to them were on average 33 percent more successful in accomplishing their stated goals than those who merely formulated goals on their own.
3. Take notes when you give in to an addictive behavior.
Try to maintain an open, non-judgmental attitude by being an insightful and attentive “witness” to your actions. This will help you identify your triggers so you will be more aware of the emotions attached to the behavior. A willingness to looking at the “why” behind your actions will provide insight and assist you in conquering the habit.
4. No goal can be met without motivation.
Take time to define why you want to lose weight, mend a relationship or cut down on alcohol. Write down your reasons for changing the habit or behavior, and then create recurring reminders in the form of notes — placed on the bathroom mirror, in your car, or on the fridge. Alternatively, you can create calendar events or a voicemail recording to remind you of why you want to initiate the change.
5. Block out time.
Lack of time can serve as a perpetual excuse for us all. In order to realistically set yourself up for success you have to determine how much time you will need to devote to attaining your goal and schedule it on your calendar each week so you aren’t tempted to double-book.
6. Know your weaknesses.
Identify your triggers. Try to determine what throws you off course. Does stress provoke you to have a drink or to smoke? Do you binge eat at lunch if you skip breakfast? Take a good look at your behavior and identify what causes you to slip up — then find ways to prevent self-sabotage.
7. Don’t do it alone.
Find someone you trust and ask them to support you through the process, making you more accountable.
8. Try mindful meditation and breathing techniques.
Meditation and becoming more mindful can help reveal why cravings and addictive behaviors arise and may allow you to make changes with more ease.
9. Reward yourself.
Celebrate your successes (with something that’s good for you) for sticking to your new, healthier behaviors.
10. Surround yourself with like-minded people.
Try to spend more time with those who share the same aspirations and long-term objectives. Seek out others who are intent on making positive changes in their own lives — and encourage you to do the same.