At the end of the year we look back at the past 365 days and then look forward to what we would like to be different. A lot of people make the same resolutions, wanting to lose weight, decrease stress, or quit habits such as tobacco use. The problem is we almost always seem to fail, year after year. It’s said the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again expecting different results. Try something different then if you’re looking for success in 2014.
Here are some tips to get you on your way.
1: Don’t Make Too Many Resolutions
Sure we all want to read more, balance our budget, spend more time with family, travel, lose weight, learn a new language (we’re traveling remember!), and a thousand other things we can think of to better our lives. Remember we only have a finite amount of attention, discipline, and time. Spreading those resources thin will make sure we don’t keep any of our resolutions. Thin down your resolution list to only the most important changes. Still have too many? Try staggering your resolutions. Spend all of January 2014 on your most important resolution. When February rolls around add another resolution to the mix. Better to succeed in one resolution for 12 months than 12 resolutions for one month.
2: Set Specific Goals
Don’t be vague. How can you know what you’re achieving and when you’ve achieved it if you’re goals are vague? If you want to lose weight next year how much is enough? Why not try out the SMART method for setting goals. In the SMART method your goals should be Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-bound. You can find more information on the SMART method from a variety of resources, even Wikipiedia.
3: Positive Reinforcement
The truth is most resolutions fail in the first quarter of the New Year. We make our resolutions into a burden and eventually we decide to make an excuse to not continue working towards our goals. Try to think of the positive results of your resolution and what positives you’re seeing now. Sure it’s a pain to go to the gym regularly but physical exercise boosts dopamine, has been linked to long term brain health, and can help to generally make you feel better AND sleep better. These are all great effects from a resolution to lose weight, none of which are concerned with losing weight. Make a list and put it in a visible spot like your bathroom mirror, the refrigerator, or front door.
4: Talk About It
Tell your friends and family about your resolutions. The support of loved ones around us helps make the uphill climb easier. In addition to general support, having people regularly ask you about your resolutions will help keep you accountable for putting in the work. If you’re lucky you may even find someone else you know is interested in the same resolution. You can work on it together and set up regular communication to keep each other accountable.