The year 2020 is upon us, and amid the excitement and stress of the holidays, you may be pondering whether you’ll make a New Year’s Resolution and what it will be. Maybe the months-long sugar high that started back on Halloween has you vowing to eat better, or maybe you want to spend more time with friends or simplify your life. Fantasizing about your goal for the new year can be fun, but as many people have experienced, it’s not enough to just set a goal and hope you’ll meet it. Here’s what some researchers at the University of Scranton found over a two year period while tracking 200 people’s success with their New Year’s resolutions:
-People were going strong at one week, with 77% sticking to their resolutions during this period.
-One month later, that number dropped to 64% of participants continuing to stick with their resolutions.
-Three months later, that number fell to 50%, and after half a year, the number of people continuing to stick to their resolution was 46%.
-Ultimately, after two years, 19% of people viewed themselves as successful in sticking to their New Year’s resolution.
This study was from 2002, and even though it’s a little dated, an article published in December 2018 by YouGov.com found that 80% of Americans feel that people don’t follow through with their resolutions.
Okay, so enough with the bad news, here’s how to change that…
If you have goals you would like to reach in the New Year, make some time to strategize. Vision boarding can feel inspiring, but it’s definitely not enough. In order to be successful, you need to commit to planning, because planning lays the groundwork for success and provides a map to guide you forward. Here are some tips to keep in mind as you embark on your resolution journey:
-Identify your goal and be precise. For example, if I want to meditate more, but I keep my goal vague, I’m probably going to fail. I can help myself by getting detailed and asking some questions. How much more do I want to meditate? If I say I would like to meditate 5 times a week for 10 minutes a day, that’s something concrete I can work with. If you have a goal that is more complex, like completing a big project, you will benefit from creating a list of sub goals and identifying time frames in which you would like to complete the sub goals over the course of the year.
-Figure out how it will fit into your life. If you’ve wanted to reach your goal in the past but haven’t, what was in your way? I’ll continue with my meditation example. I haven’t been as consistent with meditating in the past because I haven’t set a specific time of day that I plan to do it – I just hope I’m going to feel like it at some point. I also don’t have a specific spot that I usually do it, which may be a factor. So, if I want to be successful this year, I know I need to identify a time and a place that this will happen and build it into my schedule.
-What’s your why? Get clear on what value your resolution will bring to your life. For instance, if you are choosing to drink less, how do you hope this will improve your life? Maybe you are trying to get healthier, or save money, or just feel better in general. Knowing why you are doing something can help motivate you at those moments when you feel like giving up.
-Create accountability for yourself. This might mean buddying up with a friend who has the same goal and checking in with one another to help you stay on track. Or, you can set a regular weekly or monthly check in with yourself to monitor how you are progressing. You might even set reminders in your calendar to pop up throughout the year to prompt you to evaluate your performance. It’s okay if you deviate from the plan at times, the important thing is that you get back on track when you recognize this happening.
-Give yourself a prize! Set milestones and reward yourself along the way. For example, each month that you are able to stick with your resolution, you could do something special for yourself. Knowing that there are rewards along the way can provide another incentive to keep going, and can help you to celebrate your success.