New Year, new start. It’s become a time-honoured tradition to make New Year’s resolutions as a New Year rolls around. After all, it’s a time when we feel energised and motivated to make a fresh start after the indulgences of December. But how many of us are disappointed when we’ve already failed at our resolutions by the end of January? A disappointing 8% of people are believed to actually stick to their New Year’s resolutions.
Here are our top tips on how to stick to your New Year’s resolutions this time around, and we’ve based it on the SMART objectives you may be familiar with from work. It may sound geeky, but they’re used for a good reason…
The key to sticking to a New Year’s resolution is to be as specific as possible about what you want to achieve. For example, instead of vowing to cut down on alcohol, say you will cut down your alcohol intake to two glasses of wine per week for three months instead. This leaves nothing open to interpretation. And hopefully after three months, you’ll be so pleased about having stuck to your resolution, you’ll feel motivated to continue the good work!
Defining New Year’s resolutions that you can track and measure as you go along is a great way to motivate yourself to stick to your goals. Similar to our alcohol example above, define your New Year’s resolutions with numbers and a measure of how you know when you’ll have accomplished your goal. For example, if you want to lose weight, set yourself a target weight and break it down into how much you will strive to lose every week. Also define what measures you will take to reach your goal, such as cutting out cake entirely and exercising three times a week – as well as how frequently you will monitor your progress.
When setting yourself New Year’s resolutions, sense check them to ensure they are definitely things you can achieve. For example, if you want to be fit enough to run a marathon by the end of the year but have a niggling knee injury, you’re probably setting yourself up for disappointment. Instead, make a resolution to get help from a physiotherapist and vow to run for an extra five minutes each week after the medical professionals give you the go-ahead.
Don’t store up all the things you want to do better over the course of the year, only to find yourself with a totally unrealistic list of New Year’s resolutions. Having a list of too many resolutions will become overwhelming and too difficult to put into practice. Instead, prioritise the resolutions most important to you and put all your energy into that. Also remember that you don’t have to wait for a New Year to better yourself. If you’re in the habit of setting yourself goals throughout the year, you’re more likely to succeed at your New Year’s resolutions.
Whatever goals you set yourself for the New Year, you need to consider time. This is both in terms of how long it will take you to reach a goal and whether the time is right for you to set yourself a particular goal. When making resolutions such as giving up smoking or reducing your calorie intake, have a target end-date and break the goal down into things you need to do each week to get there. And if you want to learn a new skill such as surfing, perhaps wait until the warmer months to get started for a higher chance of success!