According to data compiled by the University of Scranton and released in December’s Journal of Clinical Psychology, only 8% of Americans who make New Year’s resolutions actually achieve them. That’s a little discouraging. So this year should you skip the resolutions?
Not necessarily. Psychologists have studied failed resolutions and cite one of the most common reasons for unsuccessful resolutions is that people set unrealistic goals. The resolution-maker then becomes discouraged when they fail to see any achievements and stop working towards their goal. The solution then would be to avoid making unrealistic resolutions.
Ah, but how do you ensure your resolution is realistic? Well there are several steps you can take:
- Set specific goals. Instead of saying you are going to spend less money this year, decide on an actual amount you will save. For example, I am going to spend $100 less each month.
- Make a plan. Whether you want to lose weight, start exercising, or save money this year, you’ll need to map out the steps you are going to take to achieve this goal. This will also help you decide whether or not your goal is achievable and if not, you can adjust the resolution to make it more feasible.
- Discuss your plan with friends or family members. Feedback from others can also help you determine if your goals are attainable.
Once you have determined your realistic resolution you must also take steps that will help you stick to it. Some of those steps include:
- Choose only one resolution.
- Remind yourself of your resolution on a regular basis. You may want to stick a post-it note somewhere you look everyday (a computer monitor or mirror) or put a reminder note in your smartphone.
- Make small changes that are doable, not large changes that will completely disrupt your current lifestyle.
- Don’t be too hard on yourself if you slip up once and awhile. Go into it knowing there will be successes and failures.
- Work with another person who has a similar resolution. If you are trying to lose weight, find a workout partner who is doing the same. Or if you are hoping to spend less money, find a friend who is also working on her fiancés. This will give you the moral support needed to stick to the changes you will have to make. You can also share with each other some tips and advice that have worked for you.
New Year’s resolutions (when achieved and maintained) can be a wonderful way to improve your quality of life. This year focus on one specific goal and take the steps necessary for accomplishing it. Happy New Year’s!