How to Make a New Year’s Resolution Stick

The celebration of the new year has come and gone. People around the world have taken this as an opportunity to make resolutions about changing or improving themselves and their lives going forward.

But let’s be realistic: how many of those people actually keep up their resolutions after the first few days of the new year? Research has suggested that only 8% of Americans who make new year’s resolutions actually go on to achieve them.

Behavioral psychologist Dr. Paul Marciano has offered his insight and some ideas on how to increase that percentage.

  1. Clearly define your goals. When making a New Year’s resolution, many people make vague statements about what their overall goal for the year is. They say, “This year I will be better at saving money,” or, “This year I will lose weight,” without giving a specific time frame, amount or steps that they will take to achieve this goal. The first real step to changing normal behavior is to clearly understand what you intend to change. Goals should be specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-bound.
  2. Track your progress. One of the fundamental principles of psychology is that if you can measure something, you can change it. Measuring your goals can serve as a source of motivation and a means of reflecting on where you began your work and where you currently stand even if you’re not done.
  3. Have patience. Once you have set realistic goals, you must then be able to recognize that progress is sometimes not a linear or straightforward path to the end-goal. Some people will see rapid progression only to hit a wall further on and then become discouraged. In other cases, progress may be made slowly but then suddenly their goals have been met. It is important to remember that making any change can take time and making those changes stick can take even longer.
  4. Make your goals public. It can be difficult to keep up with something that you are trying to alter in your life if you are the only one keeping tabs on the progress of the change. Letting others in on your goal and the steps you plan to take will also provide you with social support. Sharing something that you might fail at with the people in your life can be challenging, but the odds of your success tend to increase when you have support from those around you.
  5. Put it on your schedule. Many of the goals that people fail to achieve are the ones that they say they couldn’t “find the time” to do. Time is not something that people can find. We all have allotted amounts of time in a day that we can choose how to spend. It only makes sense that if your goals are a priority, you should schedule them into your calendar.
  6. No more “all or nothing” mentality. The difference between doing something and doing nothing is huge. The bottom line when it comes to achieving the goals you set for yourself and making them a reality is that any kind of effort towards the goal is better than no effort.
  7. When you slip up, don’t give up. No one is perfect. Don’t take setbacks and failures as an excuse to give up and stop trying. Acknowledge the situation and use it as a drive to recommit to reaching your goal.

These tips are not just for making New Year’s resolutions. These strategies can be used at any time, whenever you are considering making a change in your life. It’s important to think and plan realistically when you set your goals; these tips can aid you in your journey to be everything you want to be.

Story by: Carlee Jo Blumenthal
Photo courtesy of: Marten Bjork on Unsplash