How to make new year’s resolutions that you’ll actually keep

The end of the year tends to be a time of reflection.  We look back over the year that was and reminisce about the good times and commiserate the bad.  We celebrate the things we achieved and lament the mistakes we made.  While we’re looking back over the old year, we’re simultaneously looking forward into the glowing new future of the year ahead (metaphorically, of course.  To perform this feat in reality, you’d either have to have two heads or be capable of some incredible contortions).

It’s inevitable that, when faced with the opportunity to start afresh, we begin to make plans about how we want our lives to be better.  And thus, new years’ resolutions are born.

In theory, I think that new year’s resolutions are a good idea.  I’m all for re-evaluating yourself and making improvements to the areas of your life that you’re unhappy with.  However, it seems that many of us make resolutions with the best of intentions, and then fall off the wagon by January 13.

I’ve put together a few tips for making resolutions that you will actually stick to, by looking at the reasons why people commonly fail at keeping their new year’s promises.

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Be realistic

One of the reasons why New Year’s resolutions can be so tricky to stick to is that we get overexcited while we’re setting them.  On New Year’s Eve you’re  hopped up on cocktails and party music.  You’re feeling pretty grand, so you make some awesomely huge plans for how you want to change your life over the next year.  This is a mistake.

If you set your goals too high, you’re setting yourself up for failure right from the start.  You can’t possibly meet those sky-high expectations that are borne from New Year hysteria.  When you’re dreaming up your resolutions, dream big, but not too big.  Try to set goals that you could realistically achieve within a year, given your current situation.

Also, don’t make too many resolutions.  Two or three is probably enough.

Make a plan

Often, we set resolutions without having the foggiest idea about how we’re going to go about achieving them.  We assume that if our intentions are good, then we’ll magically be able to change our behaviour without giving it any real thought.

In reality, human beings are creatures of habit.  If you want to start eating healthier, but you don’t create a plan of action, within two weeks you’ll be back to your old tricks and eating take away for every second meal.

To succeed, you’ll need to nut out a plan to help yourself achieve your goals.  Brainstorm some specific steps that you can take to make that resolution a reality.  Write it down.  Schedule them in your diary.  If you create a plan, the task of actually carrying out your resolutions will be much less daunting.

Space it out

We’ve all met someone who treats new year’s resolutions like a sprint.  On January 1st, they’re out there carrying out their resolution.  They go to the gym every day for a week, they sign up for salsa-dancing classes, they start speed-dating.  This person will completely throw themselves into the task of achieving their goal, devoting every bit of mental and physical energy into getting. it. done.

Achieving your new year’s resolutions is a marathon not a sprint.  You’ve got a whole year to get it done, so if you go too hard too fast, you’ll burn out in no time.  Spread your actions out over a few months.  You don’t have  to get it all done in the first week of January.  Give yourself a break and aim to work gradually towards your goal.

Make your resolutions measurable.

Try to find a way to track your progress towards your goal.  This will help you to see how far you’ve come and motivate you when the going gets tough.

A good way to do this is to be specific when you’re making your resolutions.  For example, if you want to attract more business to your online store, you could aim to make X number of sales by the end of the year.  You might be aiming to save a certain amount of money or learn to do a specific skill.  Find a way to quantify your progress and reward yourself when you reach each milestone.

If you take some time to plan out your resolutions, decide on a plan of attack and try not to be too lofty when setting your goals, you’ll have a much higher likelihood of success.  Best of luck to you!

Do you have any tips for setting resolutions and goals?

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5 thoughts on “How to make new year’s resolutions that you’ll actually keep

  1. Pingback: Tuesday Treasure Trove 2013 | Dragonflight Dreams

  2. Earlier today I started thinking about my New Year’s resolutions – and whether I should even make any this year as I always seem to end the year having to admit that I didn’t quite finish any of them. So this post has come along at exactly the right time for me. Thank you!
    xx Katie.
    Happy new year!

    • I was feeling much the same when I wrote this post. In fact, I’ve hardly achieved any of the things I set out to at the beginning of this year. But that’s O.K. I was trying to nut out a way to make lasting resolutions, and that’s when I came up with the idea for this post.

      I’m so pleased you enjoyed reading this!

      Happy new year to you!

  3. My only tip is to not beat yourself up if you fail to reach your goal. Life happens sometimes to throw us a curve ball that we’re not always going to be able to bat out of the park.
    I like all your ideas. They’re great!

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