The start of a new year is a natural time to resolve to make changes in your life. As a time when vacation, parties, and family gatherings are common, New Year’s can also be a difficult time to work toward a “new you.” If you’re determined to affect positive change in your life over the coming year, follow these tips for setting New Year’s resolutions you’ll be able to keep in 2017.
Start with one resolution
The majority of New Year’s resolutions we make are motivated by desired lifestyle changes. If you’re looking to change your lifestyle, choose one area to focus on rather than the whole thing. You may aspire to grow more active, consume less alcohol, and better manage your finances. But trying to make changes in all these areas at once is daunting and unlikely to be successful. Once you achieve the change you want in one area of your life, start to work on another. But start small in order to have a high chance of succeeding.
Once you have a rough idea of what your New Year’s resolution will be, put a plan in place to ensure you can meet it. Take a look at ways others have used to make the same change, be it quitting smoking or incorporating yoga into your daily life. Take note of any methods that strike you as viable means of reaching your goals. If you need new exercise gear, kitchen appliances, or equipment of any kind, obtain it before you start actively working toward your resolution goals. Your apartment should be equipped to help you keep your resolution even before you are.
Set concrete, attainable goals
Speaking of goals, it’s important that yours are concrete and measurable. Rather than resolving to “lose weight,” resolve to “lose 25 pounds in 12 months.” Instead of “running more,” challenge yourself to “run 15 miles per week by June.” This is important not only because you’ll know when you’ve successfully reached your goal. You’ll also have a yardstick against which to measure progress you make throughout the year.
Have a timeline
A common reason people don’t succeed at meeting their resolutions is the failure to draw up a timeline. Create a timeline for meeting your resolution goals. Indicate on the timeline when you will start working toward your goals and how. Remember that you don’t have to start on New Year’s Day, a day often spent celebrating with friends and family. Identify sub-goals that will help you meet your overall goal, and include them on your timeline.
Know your motivation
Meditate on what prompted you to choose your specific resolution. Do you have enough self-motivation to reach your goal of waking up earlier and going to bed before midnight every night? Are you looking to quit smoking or lose weight for a spouse or your children? Identify the source of your motivation, and don’t let it get away from you. Write it down on a small card you can keep in your wallet. Post it on the wall in your office. It might look something like this: “I’m committed to cutting my tobacco habit so my wife will kiss me more often and my kids can love me longer.”
Every year, thousands of Americans give up on their New Year’s resolutions at the first sign of resistance. If May arrives and you feel like you’re only a quarter of the way toward meeting your goal, don’t abandon it. Acknowledge that setbacks occur, but don’t accept failure. Instead, adjust your timeline and possibly even your end goal so that your resolution seems manageable again. Keep that resolve, and try not to fall behind again.
Create a rewards system
Keeping New Year’s resolutions is hard work. Have incentives in place to keep your spirits high, and make you feel like your work is worth it. These can be food or drink you indulge in on occasion, an hour spent with a book you’ve wanted to read, a nap, or a nice treat you rarely get to enjoy. The rewards you designate should be tailored to your hobbies, interests, and desires. Ideally, they’ll also not be counterintuitive to attaining your goals.
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