With the first month of the new year in full swing, you may be struggling to settle on your New Year’s resolutions if you haven’t already done so. While U.S. News & World Report claims that approximately 80% of resolutions fail by the second week of February, a study published in the Journal of Clinical Psychology reports that people who set New Year’s resolutions are actually ten times more likely to change their behavior than people who don’t.
If you’re not sure where to begin, here are ten suggestions to help get you started:
- Be realistic – One of the biggest mistakes people make when setting goals for the new year is being too impractical. Resolving to become a millionaire in 2020 might not be the most sensible choice. Setting your sights too high is a sure way to lose motivation fast.
- Choose a specific goal – Another common folly is choosing a resolution that is too vague. The more specific you get, the clearer the path to success will be. Instead of aiming to lose 20lbs by the end of the year, make your goal to exercise four times a week.
- Come up with action items – Once you’ve landed on your resolution, your next step is to begin outlining your course of action. If you want to secure a new job by the end of the year, ask yourself what you must do to get there. Do you need to work on your resume? Do you want to apply to a certain number of positions a week? Do you need to gather references?
- Start with small steps – While you may be preparing to dive headfirst into your resolution now that you know what you need to do, it may be best to set yourself up to progress on an upward slope. If your goal is to go from exercising zero days a week to four days a week, that could be a little too ambitious at first. You might find it helpful to aim to exercise once or twice each week for the first month to help get you into the groove.
- Anticipate setbacks – Few people will make it through the year without any hitches along the way. Prepare in advance for the ways in which you might falter and decide how you will bounce back. If you spend more than you planned to during a pay period, make up for it by putting a little more into your savings when you are paid next.
- Get support – Talking to friends and/or family about your resolutions not only helps to hold you accountable, but it also provides you with a constant source of encouraging words. You might even find someone who shares your goal! Another option is to join a group such as a workout class or smoking cessation support group.
- Track your progress – Try journaling or downloading a habit tracking/self-improvement app. Keeping tabs on where you are in your journey helps you to see things on a larger scale. Setting milestones and noting when you meet them gives you a sense of gratification that would otherwise be delayed until you’ve reached the final step in your roadmap.
- Reward yourself – Multiple studies have provided evidence that immediate rewards are more effective at predicting favorable outcomes in long-term goals than delayed rewards. Rewarding yourself when you complete each step will help keep you motivated and determining how you will do so ahead of time will keep you from overindulging or straying from your path.
- Avoid burnout – It’s okay to take breaks. If you’re feeling overwhelmed with your resolutions or due to other factors, giving yourself a day or two off might be the best thing for you to do to avoid complete resignation.
- Remind yourself of your motivation – Losing sight of the reason you settled on your resolution in the first place is far too easy to do. However, giving yourself a way to remember this on a day-to-day basis is even easier. Some ways you can do this include placing a sticky note on your mirror or placing a sign on your office desk. Another option is to simply assign meaning to a specific object such as a keychain or a refrigerator magnet so that each time you see it, you’ll be reminded of why you began this process.
In the words of Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, “A goal without a plan is just a wish.” If you keep these ten tips in mind, your chances of accomplishing your goals for the year are sure to multiply. So, get to planning and make 2020 your year of clarity, consistency, and conquering!
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