Anyone can make New Year’s resolutions. The real trick is figuring out how to keep New Year’s resolutions, right? But truthfully, a resolution is like any other goal. You need to decide what you want to accomplish and develop a plan to get it done.
Whether you want to run a marathon, finally stop killing your houseplants, or start saving for your first home, you can make resolutions that actually stick. We’ve put together a few tips to help you set you off on the right path.
Start with the Right Resolution
Becky Moore from Global Grasshopper believes that New Year’s resolutions are about “accepting responsibility for the things in your life that need improvement” and “owning the fact that you aren’t perfect, but that you can be better.” With this in mind, there are several types of resolutions you may want to avoid, like:
- Resolutions that come from someone else. Don’t pick a goal based on what others tell you that you need to do. If your family says you need to lose weight but you really don’t want to do it, you’ll have a hard time committing to that goal.
- Resolutions that you haven’t carefully considered. Before you set a New Year’s resolution, figure out what really matters to you. People show more resiliency when working towards goals that reflect their truest selves.
- Resolutions for the sake of having a resolution. Making a resolution simply because it’s New Year’s Eve and that’s what we do may be the surest way to guarantee failure. Again, if you’re not truly motivated by your goal, you’re going to have a hard time reaching it.
Set S.M.A.R.T. Resolutions
Entrepreneur Athena Oanessian, founder of You Squared , says it’s important to use the S.M.A.R.T. method for setting goals because it helps you think through your goals and understand what you need to achieve them.
S.M.A.R.T. stands for:
- Specific. Be explicit about what you want to accomplish. For example, “save money for a home” is a great goal, but a more specific goal includes the who, what, where, when, and why. Your ultimate goal might be “My spouse and I will buy a home in our neighborhood by the end of the year so we can have more space.”
- Measurable. Quantifying your resolution (e.g., I will put an extra 10 percent from every paycheck towards buying a house) helps you track your progress and stay motivated.
- Achievable. You want to ask yourself if your resolution is truly realistic given your time and resources. So if buying a home is your goal, then you may want to assess your current financial situation to see what you can afford.
- Relevant. Another important question to ask yourself is what does this goal mean to you. Are you buying a home because it’s what people are supposed to do or because it’s something you really want? Does it fit your other life goals?
- Timely. Creating a deadline for your goal, whether it’s a few months out or by the end of the year, can help keep you on track and give you space to create small, bite-sized goals. For example, you may want to buy a house by the end of the year, but maybe you need to raise your credit score first.
Break Your Resolution into Small Goals
Small, incremental steps are a good way to make progress toward one big resolution, according to Emily Mendez of The Ohana Addiction Treatment Center , so she recommends breaking your resolutions down into several small steps.
For example, if your resolution is to buy a home, then smaller goals like fixing your credit score or researching mortgages get you moving in the right direction. Making progress is also good for staying motivated. “We tend to give up on goals that we don’t see results right away on,” says Mendez.
And as you progress, Bracha Goetz of Bracha’s Books points out that celebrating your victories, even if they’re just small steps toward your bigger goal, can increase your “gratitude and sense of abundance in life.”
Write Down Your Resolution
Cofounder of Textel James Diel advises anyone who wants to keep a New Year’s resolution to “plan adequately by putting pen to paper and writing down not just your goals, but the strategy itself.” Writing your resolution down helps to clarify both your purpose and your method.
Your next step may be to place your written resolutions somewhere that you can see them often, like your bathroom mirror or refrigerator. This gives you a constant reminder that may steel your resolve when obstacles get between you and your goal.
Know That There Will be Hurdles
The road to any successful resolution includes obstacles and missteps, so you need to understand that change is a process and that you’ll have days when you fall short. When that happens, Samantha Moss of Romaticific.com encourages you to remember that, “Your resolution doesn’t end when you commit one mistake or engage in something you restrict yourself from. Let yourself adjust little by little.”
The best piece of advice we can give? Be patient. Most New Year’s resolutions are about changing habits, and that takes planning and time.