Making New Year’s Resolutions Stick

As we begin 2012, the occasion of a new year is a perfect time to make a list of resolutions. The most popular resolutions include losing weight, eating healthier, exercising more, and saving money. These are definitely worthwhile goals, but the sad fact is that most New Year’s resolutions (NYR’s) are abandoned long before springtime arrives. How can we improve our chances of maintaining our resolutions over the long term?  It’s all in our attitude. You cannot accept failure as an option. Sure, there may be setbacks, but you must develop the RESOLVE to stay committed to your goals (even if you occasionally stumble).

Here are some suggestions that will help you stay focused and committed to your NYR’s:

  1. Have a compelling reason for each NYR. It will be easier to maintain your discipline if you have a strong reason to do so. If your goal is to lose weight, for example, then you need to specify why it is important to shed those extra pounds. Create a compelling mental or written statement such as, “If I do not lose weight, I will put myself at risk of a heart attack, and I do not want to leave my children fatherless.” This type of exercise will remind you of the importance of the resolution and will help keep you motivated.
  2. Write down your NYR’s. The act of writing down your resolutions will force you to fully think through what exactly you want and what it will take to get it. Post your goals on the refrigerator, around your office and in other places where you will constantly see the notes. This step will not guarantee success, but it will condition you to think of your NYR’s on a daily basis.
  3. Set realistic NYR’s so that you do not let discouragement derail you.  It would be nice if you could save $50,000, but if that is not realistic don’t set yourself up for failure by setting unreachable goals. You can always aim for the sky, but don’t let your aggressiveness discourage you if your lofty goals are not fully realized. Keep your focus on obtaining achievable results.
  4. Specify measurable milestones and timeframes for reaching each NYR. Measuring the progress on your NYR’s is vital if you are to succeed. For each NYR, specify milestones and timeframes. This will help you monitor your progress and make it easy to adjust your approach. For example, if your NYR is to be more fit, start charting how many times per week you go to the gym and the level of difficulty of your workouts. Develop targets and deadlines for reaching specific levels of fitness.
  5. Be committed to developing your new self.  Accept that sacrifice and hard work will be needed to transform you into your new self.  Following the previous steps, you should have compelling reasons for sticking to your resolutions and a good game plan for seeing results within a certain period. Always remember that personal development is a continuous process, so do not get discouraged if you occasionally falter in your resolutions. Be committed to creating the change you want and great things will happen.

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