Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Five Tips for Setting and Keeping your New Year’s Resolutions

New Year’s Eve is often seen as a time of renewal, reflection, and planning ahead. While most people are excited to come up with new resolutions, according to the American Psychological Association only about 1 in 5 people are actively sticking to their resolutions by March.

Clearly, setting resolutions is easy but sticking with them for 52 weeks is a bit more challenging. Nonetheless, when we look at people who have excelled in a variety of different fields, almost all of them have goals and a system for achieving those goals. Trends show this is the case across the board whether you’re setting an academic, personal, or professional goal.

So if you’re looking to be the best version of yourself in 2015, take a look at the tips below that help with both setting and achieving your resolutions.

Be Specific
People who are specific about their New Year’s resolutions are 10 times more likely to fulfil those resolutions than those who aren’t. So for example, rather than having a resolution to “get a better job,” think in terms of “I’ll get a job in ____ field, in ____ position, and making _____ salary.” Take it a step further by thinking about the logical actions it will take to achieve the goal and write out plan for doing them. By doing this you’re able to focus on the specific things that will take you closer to your goal.

Be Realistic
Thought it’s always best to make resolutions that cause you to stretch, commit, and at times sacrifice, understanding your current priorities and life situation is an important step to fulfilling your resolution. Keep in mind any obstacles that may be standing in your way and how you’ll overcome them. Setting unrealistic goals can cause you to become discouraged before you've even had the
chance to make meaningful progress. “Shoot for the moon and if you miss, you’ll still land in the stars” is a nice maxim, but if you never truly believe you’ll hit your resolution, you’re much less likely to even get started. So consider starting with a smaller goal to build momentum before tackling the larger goals.

Write Your Goal Down
Writing your resolution down should be your first step to achieving it.  This gets it out of your mind and forces you to think through the goal and be clear about what it is you’re trying to achieve. In 1979 Harvard conducted a study that asked students, ““have you set clear, written goals for your future and made plans to accomplish them?” Though many of the students had goals, only 3% had taken the time to write them down. Ten years later when the students were interviewed for a follow-up, the 3% who had written goals were earning, on average, ten times as much as the other 97% of the class combined!

Set Milestones
You’ve heard many times throughout your life “the journey of a thousand miles begins with the first step.” While that’s true, taking that first step knowing that you still have 1,000 miles can be pretty daunting. The odds of you completing the thousand-mile journey will be greatly increased if you break the journey down into ten 100 mile journeys and take the time to reflect and reward yourself at each milestone. Organize your resolutions into smaller, more manageable goals that build toward a larger goal. So for example, if your goal is to lose 25 pounds this year, you’re much more likely to succeed if you set a goal to lose 2 pounds per month and reward yourself at the end of each month when you’ve reached that goal.

Keep Track of Your Progress
Keeping a record of the progress you’ve made towards your resolution is one of the best ways to hold yourself accountable while also keeping your resolution top of mind. There are many different web and mobile apps that can help do this, but a notebook journal may work just as well.

By keeping records, you’ll be consistently working on your goals and able to see the progress you’ve made, which is a huge motivator in and of itself. Keeping records of your goals will also give you the opportunity to reassess your goals and allows you to make adjustments for circumstances you may not have thought of when first setting your resolution.

Best of luck on your journey through 2015! May this be your best year ever!