If you are like a lot of people (nearly half of Americans), you probably made some resolutions last week. Maybe they are official goals or perhaps just general intentions for the coming year, but either way, chances are good that you have put some thought into the ways you would like this new year to be different/better/more meaningful than the last.
Sadly, the research says that only about eight percent of people will actually achieve their New Year’s goals. I know, right? Not that many. There are lots of reasons that our resolutions don’t stick (according to science), so let’s take a quick look at some ways we can improve our odds a little, shall we?
- State your resolutions in the most positive way possible. Instead of focusing on what we will be deprived of, we will be more successful if we state what we will gain. So if you’ve written down “stop eating sugar,” consider shifting that to “eat more nutritious foods.” Or if you have resolved to “spend less time staring at the phone,” perhaps “spend more time with family and friends” will be more inspiring. Think carefully about what you are trying to create in your life rather than what you are trying to remove, and state your intentions that way.
- Make sure your resolutions are specific. One of the biggest reasons resolutions fail is because we start out with goals that are way too general. Instead of saying “lose 40 pounds,” we can improve our chances by saying something like “exercise at least three times a week and eat clean five days a week.” Having a more specific intention helps us stay on track toward our goals for much longer than general, wishful statements.
- Break up your goals into incremental pieces. It is hardly ever recommended to set goals at a one-year pace…that’s simply too much time. So, take a look at your annual resolutions and then break them down into smaller time frames. For instance, if you wanted to “pay off half of the debt,” you would be better served by setting a smaller monthly goal and then repeating it 12 times. Psychologically, this approach gives us many opportunities for small successes instead of just one big opportunity for failure.
- Make sure your resolutions are fun/inspiring/enticing. It is much, much easier to stick with things that we enjoy and to which we feel naturally drawn. Let’s not just bog ourselves down with the boring directives of “get healthy” and “save more money,” when we can also challenge ourselves to have more fun and more play in our lives. Consider including things like “find a new hobby” or “make/see more art” or “get outside more” or “laugh every day” in your list of intentions. We could all stand to have a little more light and liveliness in our lives, right?
So, take a few minutes to overhaul those resolutions and let’s give ourselves a shot at the best year so far! (And if you want some inspiration or new ideas for resolutions, there are some good lists here and here and here.) Happy New Year!