How to Stick To Your New Year’s Resolutions

December 27, 2016

How to Stick To Your New Year’s Resolutions

I resolve to lose weight. I resolve to save more. I resolve to be a better parent. Sound familiar? If you made any of these or similar New Year’s Resolutions in the past, you are not alone. Approximately 45% of Americans make New Year’s Resolutions.

Now, here’s the real question. Did you keep those resolutions? Chances are you did not. According to Statistic Brain, only 8% of people who make New Year’s Resolutions keep them.

That’s a discouraging statistic…92% of us won’t keep our New Year’s Resolutions. You can easily confirm that by visiting your local gym during the first week in January (packed, can’t get a parking space, have to wait for the machine you want) and again in mid-February (plenty parking, no problem getting on your favorite machine, back to normal).

So what steps can we take to stick to our resolutions? How do we make sure we land in the 8%? The solution is not to make resolutions at all. Rather, turn your New Year’s Resolutions into goals.

Make Goals Not Resolutions

New Year’s Resolutions tend to be vague, general declarations, like the few mentioned earlier. Resolving to save more money or to be a better parent are wonderful aspirations, but leaving it at that is too general. How are you going to save more money? How much? And by when? What does being a better parent look like? How will you achieve that? Making goals zeroes in on the specifics of your resolutions.

Write Your Goals Down

Studies have shown that you have a better chance of reaching your goals if you write them down. When a goal is merely floating around in your head, it’s just a dream; it’s just an idea, and it’s mixed in with all the other millions of thoughts that cross your mind. Committing your goals to paper brings them into reality and makes them “tangible.”

Free Download: 2017 Goal Worksheet

Make SMART Goals

Writing down your goals is an important key to achieving them. Now take it a step further by making each goal SMART. Commonly used in the corporate world, SMART is an acronym that provides the five characteristics a goal should have if it is to be met. There are a few variations to the acronym; however, we’ll explore just one. If you want to meet your goals, each one must be:

  • Specific – Your goals cannot be general. What specifically are you looking to achieve? The more detailed your goal is, the more likely you are to meet it.
  • Measurable – Your goals must be quantifiable. Think numbers here. How much money are you going to save? How much weight are you going to lose?
  • Actionable – Your goals should be broken down into action steps. What specific actions will you take to meet each goal?
  • Realistic – Your goals must be realistic. The point is to achieve them, after all. Strike a balance between setting goals that are challenging, scary even, yet still within your reach.
  • Time-Sensitive – Your goals must have deadlines. Attach a due date on each of your goals so that you are working towards an established finish line.

Examples of SMART Goals

Using these five characteristics, let’s see how we can turn general New Year’s Resolutions into SMART goals.

Resolving to lose weight becomes:
I will lose 10 lbs by March 31, by going to the gym three times a week and limiting my caloric intake to 1500 calories per day.

Resolving to save more money becomes:
I will save $200 every month by spending $25 less a week on groceries and by downgrading or negotiating lower payments on my bills.

Resolving to be a better parent becomes:
I will spend at least one hour of distraction-free time with my children daily.

Make Goals For Each Area of Your Life

There are several different aspects of our lives, so it is necessary to set and achieve goals in each of them. Doing this ensures a balance in your life. If you’re focused on improving your health but you’re neglecting your relationships, then that is not much of a balance. Using Zig Ziglar’s Wheel of Life, the seven areas in which to make goals are:

  • Financial
  • Career
  • Family
  • Health/Physical
  • Social
  • Spiritual
  • Personal Growth

Making at least one goal in each of these areas addresses your life in its entirety, as opposed to just one aspect of it.

Establish Your Goals Today

The perfect time to set your goals is today. This year, “resolve” that your goals will make it to March by writing them down, making SMART goals, and by making at least one goal in each of the seven areas discussed.

Of course, be careful of the total number of goals you make. Do not make so many that you feel completely overwhelmed and end up not working on any of them. Review all your goals as a whole to make sure you can realistically work on and achieve all of them.

Download the 2017 Goal Worksheet, and set your goals today!

Happy New Year!

Have you made New Year's Resolutions in the past only to give up on them? Make this year different with these tips on making goals.