Whether you’re trying to get a new job, lose weight, stop smoking, or work out at the gym regularly, New Year’s resolutions are rewarding ways to improve your life. No matter how past years have gone, with a few common sense tips, you can make resolutions that last.
- Believe you can change. Claim responsibility and a sense of control of your life. Where do you want to be one year from now? A sense of empowerment and responsibility are prerequisites to meaningful change.
- Keep it simple. Set clear and specific goals and focus on one or two of the most important. Research shows that people find more long-term success when they tackle a few goals at a time. A realistic plan could be to save $100 a month and to go to the gym twice a week. Choosing to quit smoking, lose 20 pounds, find a mate, and learn a new language might be too much to take on at once. Begin realistically.
- Map out steps to the big day. A time-frame and strategy are the most essential ingredients for success. Choose a goal, and then break it down into smaller steps. If you want to save $1000, plan to set aside $50 per paycheck. If your goal is to exercise more, arrange to take a 15-minute walk at lunch.
- Track your progress. Get a journal and write down your discoveries, discouragement, and self-praise. Or fill it with pictures of your lean and fit self, photos of the dream vacation you’re determined to save for, or whatever keeps you motivated and “checking in.”
- Change your environment. Make changes in your environment to reduce temptation and to nurture positive behavior. If you’re aiming to save money, consider taking a different route home that avoids the mall. Tempted by the candy machine at work? Bring healthy snacks with you.
- Build your team. Your support network is crucial. Choose people around you who are trustworthy and supportive, and share your goals. Attend the meetings of a support group. You may even want to consult a professional who can offer intensive support.
- Persistence pays. If it’s tough-going at first, hang in there. Take pride in your achievements. If you stray, don’t beat yourself up. Self-esteem and confidence are critical to success.
- Reward yourself! When making your plan, decide on rewards for reaching designated achievements. But be sensible. If your goal is to lose weight, don’t make the reward a rich dessert. If your goal is to save money, don’t celebrate a good start with even a tiny spree.