Making New Year’s Resolutions That Last

By John M. Grohol, Psy.D.

It’s not always easy to keep New Year’s resolutions. Sometimes there just doesn’t seem to be enough time, energy or willpower to accomplish everything. Don’t despair! If you spend some time reevaluating the way you make resolutions, this year can be different. Here are some tips that will help you make resolutions that last.

1. Set realistic resolutions and expectations

Choose one goal, then break it down into smaller, more manageable bits. For example, if you want to save $1,000, think about it in terms of saving $20 per paycheck. That makes your goal less intimidating. Every time you save some money, praise yourself. Rewarding yourself for every positive step will help you have the confidence you need to hang in there.

2. Think of resolutions as opportunities to try new things

Resolutions are a time of the year not only to try and “fix” the problems in your life, but also to try out a new way of being, a new activity or hobby, or a new attitude. Resolutions should not seem like punishments; if you try to make them fun, you will be more likely to stick with them. If your goal is to be healthier, try going for a 10-minute walk before work and enjoying your neighborhood. Think of January first as a chance to adopt a healthier lifestyle, not as the start of a period of denial

3. Make a plan early on and stick to it

Studies show that people who make impulsive resolutions are less likely to stick to them. Think about what is most important to you and create strategies to deal with the problems and setbacks that will come up as you move towards your goal. Tracking your progress will help as well; the more you monitor and praise yourself, the more likely you are to succeed.

4. Look at the bright side

Focusing on the positive side of things will give you more energy and enthusiasm to pursue your goals. People who believe that they can succeed are more likely to do so. For example, praise yourself for losing five pounds, but don’t punish yourself for gaining one back. You will reach your goal more easily if you accentuate the positive.

5. Forgive yourself

Don’t beat yourself up if you don’t accomplish the small goals you set for yourself. Remind yourself that every day is a new day and an opportunity to try again.

6. Team up with a friend or loved one

Make a list of your goals and share them. You are now accountable to two people: yourself and a friend. You will also get a sense of satisfaction from helping your friend accomplish his or her goals, too. Such an informal pact can help hold your feet to the fire when you feel discouraged or want to give up.

7. Try, try again

If you don’t succeed at first, don’t be discouraged. Not many people are able to reach their goals on the first try. Try again! There’s no shame in not succeeding on our first try and although it may be a little discouraging, it doesn’t have to be an excuse to stop.

8. Remember, you do have the power to change

Only you can make the commitment to change your life. Maybe you can’t accomplish everything you want to do in one year. Accept that. But ask yourself this: one year from now, do you want to be exactly where you are, or do you want to be closer to your goal, even if only a small step closer?

Life is about choices. Make choices, set goals, and help yourself accomplish them.

 

APA Reference
Grohol, J. (2002). Making New Year’s Resolutions That Last. Psych Central. Retrieved on October 30, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/lib/making-new-years-resolutions-that-last/0001543
Scientifically Reviewed
    Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 30 Jan 2013
    Published on PsychCentral.com. All rights reserved.