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How to set and follow through on New Year’s resolutions

Every new year we make resolutions to change. We want to be better and do more, but in the end, our resolutions are forgotten. It can be hard to stay committed when you’re juggling school, work, family life, and personal commitments. But it doesn’t have to be like that! Here are some tips for setting and keeping New Year’s resolutions:

Pick the right resolution

The statistics on how many people actually follow through and accomplish their New Year’s resolutions are rather grim. Studies have shown that only one-third of people actually stay committed to their resolutions after just 30 days.

A lot of these resolutions fail because they’re not the right resolutions. And a resolution may be wrong for one of three main reasons:

It’s a resolution created based on what someone else (or society) is telling you to change.

Often people set goals that are more for other people than themselves. Your friend’s resolution might be to start running or stop smoking, and while it’s nice to have some external support, if you don’t share the same passion, making that your resolution has a small chance of succeeding and could even be dead on arrival.

You need to make sure the goal you set is important to you and only you and that there is value or benefit for you in achieving the goal.  It is these two things that will provide the reason and willingness to take action. This is also known as motivation!

It’s not specific.

Every year, millions of people resolve to “get in shape”, “lose weight,” or “get organised” during the year. Instead of selecting such an ambiguous goal, focus on something more concrete that you can realistically set your sights on. In other words, choose a very specific, achievable goal.

For example, you might commit to completing a marathon, losing 10 kilograms, or making daily to-do lists. Be sure to make your goal realistic. Choosing a concrete, achievable goal also gives you the opportunity to plan exactly how you are going to accomplish (and stick to) your goal over the course of the year.

You don’t have a realistic plan for achieving your resolution.

Most New Year’s resolutions fail because of a lack of planning. Your resolution is essentially just a goal that you want to achieve in one year. Make sure when you have a goal in mind that you want to tackle that you’ve put in place a plan that will help you visualize getting to the end.

Setting a plan for your goal is a powerful process that allows you to reflect on what you want to achieve in the long or short term. By questioning your ideal future, this method encourages motivation and helps you to turn your vision of this future into reality.

You can read our blog on How to stay motivated and achieve your goals to get detailed tips on how to make a plan that will help you achieve your resolution.

Forget perfection

Remember that this is a resolution that will take a year to achieve. Those unhealthy or undesired habits that you are trying to change probably took years to develop, so how can you expect to change them in just a matter of days, weeks, or months?

Be kind to yourself. Understand that working toward your resolution is a process. Even if you make a misstep or two, you can restart and continue your journey towards your goal.

It may take longer than you would like to achieve your resolution, and you might be disappointed in a lack of perceived progress, but this is not a race to the finish. Once you have made the commitment to changing a behaviour, it may be something that you continue to work on for the rest of your life.