Making your New Year’s resolutions work

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Have you ever made New Year’s resolutions?

Resolutions are actions or goals that we promise to start doing or accomplishing at the beginning of the year. It can be related to improving your health, career, education, or spiritual life. It can be a promise to stop bad habits or start new, good ones. It has become a tradition to mark the New Year by making this list, all in the hopes for a better year ahead. But did you know that studies show that only 8% of people who make resolutions succeed in keeping them? In fact, while 75% of resolutions are continued until the first week of January, only 46% make it past six months (Why your New Year’s Resolutions won’t work, and what will, William Vanderbloemen, Forbes).

So why even bother making them?

Studies show that only 8% of people who make resolutions succeed in keeping them. In fact, while 75% of resolutions are continued until the first week of January, only 46% make it past six months

Why should you make New Year’s Resolutions?

One good reason is that you will always be a better person for it when you try. Reflecting on your life, wanting to make improvements, making an effort to write them down with good intentions – these are positive actions that can lead to changing for the better. The real value in making resolutions is in the experience, not the end result. Even if you don’t fully succeed in carrying them out, you have made yourself aware of your needs, goals, and potentials.

Also, what if you discover that you have what it takes to be part of the 8% that do succeed? You may be pleasantly surprised to find out that you are more disciplined and driven than you thought. Having a list of resolutions can help you focus and guide you to achieve whatever it is that you want in life.

Tips for making resolutions that work

  1. Plan ahead – You have to start making the list way before Dec. 31st. Take time to make a good assessment of your present self. Envision what you want to be in the next year. If you got sick too many times in 2018, maybe you would want to resolve to have better health in 2019. Prepare not only your list but also your mindset. Remember that this is a commitment. Don’t take it lightly.
  2. Focus on positive goals – Habits are hard to break. Resolutions that start with “I will not,” “I will never,” or “I will stop” are almost impossible to accomplish. You will be more likely to succeed if you set positive goals. Committing to doing an activity that can slowly form into a habit (and hopefully replace a negative habit) is more feasible. For instance, instead of saying “I will never eat junk food again,” you should list down “I will eat two servings of vegetables per day” or “I will have a piece of fruit for a midday snack every day.” By making these healthy options more available, you may ease out junk and get into the habit of choosing natural, healthy food.
  3. Be realistic – Stopping all wars or eliminating poverty are righteous goals but these are not likely to be accomplished in anyone’s lifetime. It may be more practical to focus on goals that are reachable and humanly possible to accomplish.
  4. Start small– Taking the examples above (#3), you can change your resolution and still contribute to these causes. If you want to stop wars, maybe start with the small conflicts in your life. Resolve to be tolerant with all people of various cultures, learn more about diversity, or make peace with a friend or family member you have a misunderstanding with. You may not be able to eliminate poverty in 2019, but you can assist newcomers like you by giving them good information, volunteering at a charity event, or a soup kitchen. A little effort goes a long way.
  5. Be specific – The more specific your resolution, the higher the potential for success. For example, instead of saying “I will be healthy in 2019”, which is vague, you should list down specific ways to achieve it. It can be “Attend Zumba three times a week,” “eat at least two servings of fruits every day” or “attend yoga classes twice a week.”
  6. Make short term goals – You don’t have to set goals that take one year to accomplish. Experts say that it takes somewhere between 21 and 66 days for a new activity to become a habit and take root. Try making defined goals that last for one to six months. It can make it easier for you to commit to them since the period of time is more manageable.
  7. Verbalize them – Saying your goals to someone makes them real and holds you accountable for them. This can also garner support from people close to you. They may encourage you when you feel like giving up; they can also help create a good environment for you to support your goals.
  8. Get support – Ask a trainer, a mentor/teacher, your husband, wife, or best friend to help you stick to your resolutions. Or better yet, ask them to join you. For instance, you will have a better chance of sticking to your schedule of jogging thrice a week if your husband or wife jogs with you. Learning a new craft or polishing your language skills can be fun when you do it with a group of friends.
  9. Set up rewards – Allow yourself to enjoy small achievements. It may encourage you to persevere when you have small incentives to look forward to. For example, if your goal is to lose weight, how about promising to buy yourself that dress you have been eyeing for months when you lose five lbs?
  10. Keep track of your progress – Noticing how you have improved can encourage you to push on with your goals. Write them down periodically and note if there are obstacles in your way. Be kind to yourself when you fall off the wagon but never give up! Continue to persevere. You can do it!

Sources: How to keep your New Year’s Resolutions, Art Markman, Time Magazine; Why your New Year’s Resolutions won’t work, and what will, William Vanderbloemen, Forbes; Top 10 reasons you don’t stick to your resolutions, Jené Luciani, Shape.

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