The start of the new year means new years resolutions for all. A time for contemplating and enacting changes that we feel will enhance our lives. Yet, a study conducted by researchers at the University of Scranton found that 23% of people quit working on their resolutions just two weeks into the new year. And only 19% of resolution setters stuck to their goals over the long haul. So, how do we set resolutions that stick and have real lasting impact?
First and foremost, determination and dedication are key. Change is uncomfortable and when we are met with change our natural instinct is to resist; we all know, change is not bad, especially in the case of new year’s resolutions. So, what are some things you can do to not only be determined, but also help you stay dedicated?
- Create a measurable goal.
Don’t bother creating a vague resolution like, “I want to get healthier,” or “I want to be happier.” Oftentimes an intangible and vague goal will cause you to feel lost. Instead, create measurable goals like, “I want to meditate three nights per week,” or “I want to hike twice a month.” This way, you have a clear goal to aim for.
- Make clear action steps.
You can’t get healthier or get out of debt without action steps that will help you get there. Create a plan that includes objectives that will create change. Whether you are going to eat a salad for lunch every day or you’re going to stop eating out until you’ve paid off your debt, commit to taking action(s) that will help you get closer to your goal.
- Prepare yourself to be successful.
To prepare yourself for the common dip in motivation we all experience, set yourself up for success well in advance. You can do this by making bad habits inconvenient and good habits convenient. Store the junk foods in a hard to reach place. Keep your workout gear packed and ready to go. Have your hiking shoes by the door. You’ll be more likely to do things that feel easy and are in front of your face, even when your motivation declines.
- Have a plan for obstacles.
There will always be something that could easily derail you from your resolution. It may be an invitation to go out with friends that could blow your budget. Or it may even be overtime at work that leaves you with fewer hours to devote to your goals. Think about the obstacles you’re likely to encounter in the first weeks after establishing your resolution.
Consider how you’ll navigate these challenges, and develop a plan. This may mean making a backup plan for your action steps and goals, or even budgeting for pop up invitations to go out. Planning ahead for the probable challenges can help you feel equipped to handle the unexpected obstacles that crop up along the way as well.
- Start when you feel ready.
There’s no need to begin your resolution on January 1st.Usually feeling the pressure to start January 1st might put you at a disadvantage. Start working on your goal when you’re ready. Whether that means you start on January 3rd or you wait until mid-spring, don’t create a resolution just because you feel pressured to do so in January.
- Keep track of your progress.
You need to know if you’re headed in the right direction. So it’s important to find a way to track your progress. You can use an app or a calendar to keep track of your goals and action steps. Or create a chart, spreadsheet, or graph that helps you visualize your progress.
When you’re able to see how you’re doing and the steps you’re taking, it can remind you how far you’ve come. Keep in mind that progress doesn’t always come in a straight line. Sometimes, things get a little worse before they get better–but this doesn’t mean you should give up.
- Learn from your mistakes. Don’t become your failures.
Mistakes are part of the process. Too often people think one mistake means they’re destined to fail. Rather than sitting in feelings of failure, learn from your misstep. Not only are you not the only one making mistakes, but it really is a part of the process; one study showed that people who were successful in maintaining their resolutions tended to slip up at least 14 times. Most of these individuals said they looked for ways to turn their mistakes into opportunities to grow stronger and become better.