It’s that time of year again. The last day of the year. New Year’s Eve. The day everyone starts talking about their resolutions and what they are going to do next year. I know many people have these grand ideas of what they are going to do next year, but how many people actually follow through with these resolutions? I am no expert on the subject, I have a few tips to try to help you keep with your resolutions.
WHAT IS A NEW YEAR’S RESOLUTION?
It would help to first know what a New Year’s Resolution really is. According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, a New Year’s Resolution is “a promise to do something different in the new year” and per the Cambridge English Dictionary it’s “a promise that you make to yourself to start doing something good or stop doing something bad on the first day of the year.” So there are a few different interpretations of the term. Some think it is just a promise to do something different, with no restrictions on what that ‘different’ is. The other says you should start something good, or stop something bad. This is a more specific definition and I feel like this is the one most people believe.
WHY MAKE A NEW YEAR’S RESOLUTION?
New Year’s Resolutions are great for goal-planning for the year. After all, that’s basically what a New Year’s Resolution is: a goal that you want to achieve next year. There are many reasons that a New Year’s Resolution can be helpful, and they all will differ depending on the person and what they want to accomplish. For example, a student may make a resolution to study harder and get better grades. A young couple may resolve to get their finances and budgets in order to plan for their financial future. A parent may resolve to find more ways to have fun with their children. A smoker may resolve to quit smoking. These are all examples of starting something good OR stopping something bad.
Why do most people never achieve their New Year’s Resolution? According to a study performed a few years ago in Australia (found here), there were a few main factors contributing to those who failed to meet their goals.
35% of people set unrealistic goals
When you set a goal, it needs to be something that you can do. If your resolution is to lose 50 pounds, but you don’t have the determination or motivation to hit an extreme program, you aren’t going to lose that amount. Or for some people, they have unrealistic goals of a certain weight they want to get to.
33% of people didn’t track their goals
Find a way to break your goals down into more doable goals, and track it. Trying to lose weight? Find a way to track every pound lost. Trying to be better at budgeting? Track how much money you save each month, or how close you came to hitting your budget and watch how those numbers shift as you get closer to your goal.
23% forgot about their goal
If this is something you really want to achieve, make a chart. Post a photo on your refrigerator. Make the background of your phone have an image of your goal typed out. Or maybe a photo of why you are making this goal.
10% made too many goals
This ties in with making achievable goals. If you are trying to do too many things, you are going to stretch yourself thin. You can’t pour from an empty cup and the same goes with having too many resolutions.
HOW TO KEEP YOUR NEW YEAR’S RESOLUTION
Just like with any goal planning, there are steps you can take to make sure you reach your goal. I personally like to have a broad, general goal, and break that down into smaller, more achievable goals. For example, if your goal is to get yourself on a budget and plan for the future, you could start by setting your January goal to just track your finances and see where you are at. In February, plan how much you want to spend on each category in your budget. In March, be more mindful and track throughout the month. You keep on that for a couple months and around June or July do an assessment again and see what else you can do. Eventually, as long as you stick with it, by the end of the year you shouldn’t have to think about it.
When you set a goal that seems unachievable, you will feel like you failed very quickly. Set small goals that are within reach, and you will be more successful. It helps to say, “I hit this month’s goal, now what?” rather than, “Well I already messed up so why keep going now?” This idea can be applied to almost any goal. Want to get healthy? Set a goal weight loss for each month, not the whole year. Set a goal for eating better each month and how much you are going to exercise. Don’t expect more of yourself than you can physically accomplish.
Find someone you know who has a similar resolution, or someone who will hold you accountable. If your resolution is to eat healthier and workout more, get your partner involved as well. You will help motivate each other. Another option, if you don’t have someone to work with on the goal, find someone who will help you track. Post on social media if you need to. Keep a record of your food choices, your workout, your budget, how many days without smoking… whatever it is you are doing, find a way to make yourself accountable for it.
ONLY MAKE A RESOLUTION IF IT’S RIGHT FOR YOU
A New Year’s Resolution, if done right, can help you set the tone for your entire year. It will give you goals to accomplish throughout the year to stay on track. As long as you keep yourself on track. It’s also ok if you don’t reach your goal. Sometimes, things happen throughout the year that require you to put your goals on hold. It’s up to you to know what you can do, and when you need to take a step back.
What are your goals for the coming year? What’s your New Year’s Resolution? Do you have a plan to stick with the resolution?