How to Make, and Keep, a Realistic Resolution


It’s that time of year again. When the holidays come, you have a lovely time with friends and family, spend too much money, get fabulous gifts, and eat too much yummy food. Then comes the New Year, bringing with it the hope and desire to improve on some part of our life. You are determined that this year is going to be different! This year is the year you will stick to your resolution.

January 1st comes and you commit to starting your plan tomorrow because you are just too exhausted from all the holiday festivities. On January 2nd you decide that it doesn’t make sense to start a new life path mid-week. Monday morning makes much more sense. By Monday, you are convincing yourself to put it off another day, week, month… year! Hmmm… sounds like those resolutions got packed up and put away along with the last of the Christmas decorations.

Now, if you really want (or need) to make a change this year, don’t worry, there is hope for you yet. Here are some ideas on how to avoid the annual resolution put-off.

Plan for Your New Year’s Resolution

Whether you want to loose weight, get on a budget, get organized, or go green, you first need a plan. Make sure you consider all facets of your current lifestyle and what changes you will need to implement in order to be successful. Start with small things and gradually increase the changes as you progress. Be as specific as possible. For example, if you want to go green do some research, take an assessment of your surroundings, find out what “green” resources are available to you, and what, if any, costs are involved. Then start by changing out your light bulbs to the energy saving kind. Break down your plan into measurable goals in order to make the final goal feel more attainable. Include your starting and ending points, and determine a reasonable amount of time to accomplish your goals. For example, if you want to save $500 by the end of the year you would put $0 as your starting point, $500 as your ending point, and $41.66 ($500 divided by 12 months) as your mini monthly goals.

Write Down Your New Year’s Resolution

Once you have come up with your plan of action, write it down. It is very important that it is legible, so if your handwriting is not very good, consider typing it on a computer and printing it out. Be sure to include points of assessment to check your progress. Writing things down not only helps you to remember them, but it also makes the plan concrete and visual. Once you’ve written it all down, post it somewhere you will see on a daily basis. This will serve as a good reminder to keep you on track. It will also allow you to check off items, or your mini goals, as you accomplish them. Being able to visually see your progress will keep you motivated to continue on your journey of change.

Invest In Your New Year’s Resolution

Once you have finalized your plan and written it down, it’s time to get the tools you will need. Most people are more likely to keep up an activity if they have invested money in it. Think about even seeking professional advice. If you want to loose weight, consult with a nutritionist, purchase a gym membership, get a personal trainer or a workout video and some weights. Also, go to the grocery store and stock up on healthy food choices. If you want to improve your financial situation, talk to a financial planner and/or open a savings account. If you want to spend more time with the family, purchase games for a family night, camping equipment for outdoor fun (you can camp out in your backyard if you don’t want to or are unable to go to a campsite), or a family membership/season tickets to a year-round attraction such as a professional sports team, a museum, or the zoo.

Share Your New Year’s Resolution With Others

When you tell people around you what you are doing they can become your support system. They might be able to offer advice, help you stay on track, and praise you for your progress. Sharing your goals also makes you more accountable for your progress. You are less likely to fall off the wagon if your loved ones are around to steady you. Another benefit to sharing your resolution is that you will find other people wanting to change a part of their life as well — even better if you end up with the same resolution. You all can buddy up to achieve your goals, which will definitely increase each of your chances for success.

Expect Imperfection With Your New Year’s Resolution

Change doesn’t come easy for most people. Therefore, expect that there will be days that you get off track of the plan. It happens to the best of us. Rather than being hard on yourself or ditching your plan altogether, pick yourself up and get back to it as quickly as possible. This is where the above motivational tools come in handy. Call up your buddy, check out your progress, remind yourself of the goal, and get moving again. If your plan has become stagnant or you’ve reached a plateau in your progress, reassess your plan and make necessary adjustments.

Reward the Progress of Your New Year’s Resolution

Any successful plan contains points for assessment and rewards. Rewards are important because they help you stay motivated by giving you something to work for beyond the main goal. Be sure it is something that is pleasurable to you, but does not derail your progress. Also schedule your rewards at the same points as your measurable goals and assessment times. For example, let’s say your goal is to get more organized: your measurable goal is to clean out your files by the end of the month, and your predetermined reward is to get a massage. It’s the end of the month and your files look beautifully organized, so relaxation, here you come!

No one knows you better than you know yourself. What works for one person is not necessarily going to work for you, or the next person. Make sure your plan is geared toward you: your personality, your likes and dislikes, your age, your health, and your abilities. The key to bringing your resolution to fruition is all in the first step. So, this New Year, start with baby steps. Eventually you will build momentum. Before you know it, you’re running and you can’t believe you ever just stood still.

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