What was your New Year’s resolution going in to 2012? Was it losing weight, getting more organized, or managing your money better? Those were the most popular resolutions of the past year, but if you’re like most people, you quickly forgot about those annual goals.
When it comes to making resolutions, just under half of Americans – about 45 percent – set a goal every January 1st. But here’s the rub: just eight percent will actually fulfill their resolution. That’s a pretty miserable success rate.
So what can you do to increase your chances of success?
Join A Team
Nothing will help you get from point A from point B like a support group. Whether your resolution focuses on training to run a marathon, curbing a bad habit like smoking, or working to put more money into your retirement accounts, having someone – be it a family member, friend, or colleague – to whom you can be accountable is critical. Is your resolution too personal (re: embarrassing) to share publicly? Consider using a website that will function as your virtual coach, like Start A Resolution.
Focus On A Single Goal
Making multiple resolutions is one of the biggest paths to keeping my resolutions. Why? Because the more resolutions I make, the thinner I’m spread. This leads to feeling overwhelmed, and when I’m overwhelmed, I’m less likely to follow through. So what happens? I start by dropping one of those resolutions; it proves to be a slippery slope, because once I quit on one goal, it’s easier to quit on another… and another… and another.
Take It One Day (Or Step) At A Time
Say your New Year’s resolution is to lose 25 pounds. Common sense tells you that it won’t happen overnight; in fact, one to two pounds a week is a healthy rate of weight loss, meaning it could take several months to drop those extra pounds. Instead of focusing on that big number – or any number at all – focus on what you can do that day to improve your odds of success. If your goal is weight loss, that means taking the time to exercise and watching what you eat.
Turn Your Resolution Into A Habit
Although plenty of folks are fond of saying you can learn a healthy new habit in 21 days, there’s no hard and fast data on just how long it takes to start a new habit or break an old one. The conventional wisdom? The longer you’ve had a bad habit, like smoking, chewing your nails, or cracking your knuckles, the longer it will take you to break it. That’s why it’s so crucial to make resolutions that involve small lifestyle changes that can evolve into a habit that will help you reach your goal. For example, saying you want to start saving ten percent of your income for retirement is a great goal, but you have to
change your lifestyle first. Spending less, tracking what you do spend your money on, choosing wise investments, and paying your retirement account before indulging in luxuries are all things that can become habitual overtime.
Evaluate Your Motivations
You’ll never succeed if you aren’t passionate about your goal in the first place. I’ve had so many friends set New Year’s resolutions because they felt pressured to, either by their friends, their family, or even society in general. If you’re not making a resolution because it’s something you want to accomplish, you’ll forget about it before Valentine’s Day.