Every year, millions of people make New Year’s resolutions, hoping to spark positive change. You’re probably familiar with at least a few of the top ten New Year’s resolutions:
- Exercise more
- Lose weight
- Get organized
- Learn a new skill or hobby
- Live life to the fullest
- Save more money / spend less money
- Quit smoking
- Spend more time with family and friends
- Travel more
- Read more
But how do we actually follow through with these? Just about everyone has a story of setting an ambitious New Year’s resolution and then abandoning it by February or March. Whether you’re hoping to get in shape or improve your career, there are a few strategies you can employ to increase the chance of sticking with your goals.
Changing ingrained habits isn’t easy, so before diving head-first, take a step back and prepare for change. It’s the perfect time to reflect on the past year’s accomplishments. Ask yourself:
- What did I set out to do in the past year?
- Where did I make progress?
- Where didn’t I see progress?
Implement changes gradually while staying positive.
Find Your Motivation
All too often, people set goals that are not for themselves. Their resolutions are dictated by a manager, a spouse, or parental or peer pressure.
While it’s nice to have support, be sure your goals are truly important to you with a value or benefit for you in achieving the goal. This will allow willingness to take action. Your resolutions should align with your goals, priorities, dreams, and aspirations.
Make it Manageable
Biting off more than we can chew will have the reverse effect than what you’re seeking. Make a short list of priorities is the hard part. Prioritizing is key.
Divide a big goal into smaller goals that are more achievable. Break up your year-long resolution into weekly or monthly goals with planned tasks. Prioritize a list of sub-tasks, assigning milestones to each.
Set SMART Goals
Be sure goals are:
- Specific – Articulate the resolution as clearly as possible.
- Measurable – Quantify your resolution if possible.
- Attainable – Choose a goal within the realm of possibility.
- Relevant – Keep it relevant to your priorities.
- Time-sensitive – Set a time-frame to achieve a goal.
Hold Yourself Accountable
Writing down your resolutions helps you clarify what it is you want to achieve, forcing you to make decisions and be precise. Writing establishes intention and acts as a guide for what opportunities to pursue.
Share your resolutions with others so you’re less likely to forget or ignore them.Going public with a goal gives a sense of obligation and accountability. Plus, when you do succeed, the people you shared with can celebrate with you!
There are various apps and services to help you follow through with tasks, such as Google calendar, Reminders (on iOS), and Boomerang for Gmail.
Keep it on Course
Schedule a monthly “big picture” review during the first week of each month, to serve as a planning meeting where you distribute smaller tasks and goals to different weeks throughout the month. Do a weekly check-in to check progress on the monthly goal and set a daily reminder for smaller resolution tasks.
Allow room for mistakes/setbacks.If they’re handled correctly, they will not impact the big goal. Avoid a defeatist attitude at all costs. One small misstep is not cause to abandon your goals altogether! Seek to understand what lead to a setback, and how to avoid a similar situation again.