How to Actually Keep Your New Year’s Resolutions This Year

How to Actually Keep Your New Year's Resolutions

The ball’s dropped, the confetti has been cleaned up, you’ve done your best to banish the glitter that seems to multiply every time you think it’s gone, and you’ve recovered from any celebratory overindulgence. You’ve made your New Year’s resolutions because 2016 is YOUR YEAR and you’re ready to do this. So… now what?

Many well meaning American’s make New Year’s resolutions each year… and abandon them by February. Only 8% (!) of people who make New Year’s resolutions actually succeed. How do you become one of the few, the proud, the resolution keepers? It starts with making a good resolution. Hint: I’m going to get in shape! I’m going to get out of debt! – Not good. Good as concepts, bad as resolutions.

A good resolution is:

  1. Actionable
  2. Obtainable
  3. Motivating

An actionable resolution is one you can take concrete steps to obtain that clearly line up with achieving your resolution. If you want to increase your cardiovascular fitness or lose weight, maybe you can commit to walking after dinner three times a week or hitting a yoga class twice a week. With a good resolution, it is very clear if you are achieving it — if you get your bum to the gym three times a week, you’re doing it. With “I will get in shape” – what does that mean? Will you lose weight? Build muscle? Be able to do 10 perfect push-ups by June 1st? Just get off the couch x number of times a week? Pick one and write it down.

Bad Resolutions: I will get in shape. I save for retirement. I will take time for myself. I will travel more.

Good Resolutions: I will take 30 minute walks three days a week. I will put 5% of my paycheck into my 401k and will increase by 1% every 3 months until I hit 10%. I will wake up at 6:30 each day and spend 30 minutes reading for pleasure (or another activity I enjoy). I will visit the Grand Canyon in September 2016. 

An obtainable resolution is one that can be achieved realistically and without herculean efforts. You can always add on if you succeed but if you set the bar too high and fail, you’re much more likely to just give up. Let’s say you want to reduce added sugar in your diet (a great goal). Instead of vowing to never have a bite of chocolate or pretty much any restaurant meal ever again, start with one actionable, obtainable goal (that will still make a difference in your health) and then add on later as it becomes a habit. Pick the worst offender – if you chug two Cokes a day, switching from soda to seltzer (not diet soda!) will make a big impact. If your current workout is lifting a PS4 controller, put a 5k on the calendar, not the Boston marathon. If you haven’t read a book for pleasure since high school, commit to reading one chapter a week of a book you enjoy, not one book.

Bad Resolutions: I will have no added sugar ever again. I will get off the couch and run a marathon. I will be able to bench press 500lbs.

Good Resolutions: I will reduce the added sugar in my diet by switching from soda to seltzer water. I will run a 5k in March, June, and September and a 10k in December. I will be able to do 7 unassisted pull-ups by December.

A motivating resolution is one you actually want to achieve, not one you feel you should want to achieve. If you hate running, this is not the year of the marathon. Maybe pilates is your thing instead. If you want to save for a house but secretly want the freedom to move around, you’re going to have a hard time saying no to that trip to Europe to build up your house fund. A resolution that benefits you objectively, will bring you joy, and that you can see yourself achieving is one that you have a great chance of reaching. Need ideas? I have 5 Resolutions You’ll Actually Want to Keep. And while you’re there, enter to win a $5 Amazon gift card to make achieving your resolution a little easier.

Pick your resolution. Write it down. Everywhere. Write out a plan. And if you stumble, don’t give up! You only fail when you stop trying. 

What will you achieve in 2016? Let me know if the comments!



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