Setting New Years Resolutions That You Can Keep
I’m sure that you, like countless other people worldwide, are right now contemplating whether or not you want to set a New Year’s Resolution for yourself. If you’re like me, you’re wondering if you even should bother trying because you’ve failed at keeping your past resolutions too many times to count!
In fact, about 65% of our resolutions do fail according to a recent study. But, I’m going to focus instead on all of the reasons you should set a resolution! After all, 35% of us are keeping our resolutions and fully reaching our goals, and about 50% of us are having at least partial success, and that amounts to an awful lot of people improving themselves!
A New Beginning
New Years is by definition a time of ending and starting something new. It is a time of renewal and of hope, a time of reflection. Studies have shown us that goals begun at a time of a natural beginning have a better chance of being completed, and a resolution is at its essence a goal. This would include times like the first day of summer, the first day of a new job, your birthday, New Years Day, and even a random Monday! This is because at these natural new beginnings, your brain psychologically sets it as a new start and gives you a clean slate to work with.
Another reason to set a New Years Resolution is that the act of setting a goal will increase your chance of reaching it. In fact, those who set goals for themselves, are approximately 42% more successful at making the desired self-improvement than those who do not.
Does the Type of Goal Matter?
Carlbring out at Stockholm University studies goal-making. He makes a distinction between what he calls “avoidance” goals and “approach” goals. Avoidance goals are those where you’re taking something away like you resolve to quit smoking or to stop playing video games so much. Approach goals, on the other hand, are those goals where you add something, so for example when you decide to walk every day or to start meditating regularly. He ran a study and found that you are 25% more likely to reach your goal if you are attempting an approach-type goal.
The good news about this is that pretty much any goal can be turned into an approach goal with a little imagination. So, for example, if you are trying to cut back on sugar in your diet, you might set your goal to eat healthy snacks or to eat vegetarian meals once a week. These goals will also aid you in reducing the sugar in your diet but do so with a positive approach. Other examples of these type of goals are:
Instead of a goal to stop biting your nails, write a goal to play with a rubber band every time you feel like biting your nails
Instead of a goal to stop being late for work in the morning, you write a goal to get up 20 min earlier every day
Instead of a goal to stop going on Facebook so much, you make a goal to go for a walk every evening (the time you usually go onto Facebook)
Steps to Making an Achievable Resolution
1. Spend some time self-reflecting on what things are working for you in your life and what things you might want to change. Decide what is within your power to change. For instance, you absolutely can not change anyone else’s behavior.
2. Make a decision to change and make a commitment to that. Write it down, then read it out loud! This will increase your level of commitment.
3. Break your goal down into smaller, more manageable steps. For instance, if your goal is to lose 20 lbs, then you can set smaller, more obtainable goals of 1)try a new low-calorie recipe every week, 2) engage in 10min of exercise every lunchtime, 3)Park in the back of the lot, even in bad weather, etc. This will help you to see the progress that you’re making along the way and help to keep you motivated.
4. Measure your progress. Figure out some way to measure your progress towards your goals. Write it down so it becomes concrete and you can see it. Chart it out if that helps!
5. When you fail, don’t quit! A slip-up doesn’t mean that you’re back at the beginning or that all the work that you’ve done doesn’t count. It just means that you had a slip-up. Pick yourself up and continue on. Honestly record your progress and try to learn from the experience.
6. Celebrate all of your small successes along the way! This also will help you to stay motivated for the long run.
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