A new year, a fresh start, a new you. Why do we make New Year’s resolutions?
We live in a world where we are all striving for happiness. Marketers capitalize on this quite a bit because happiness is actually big business. Think about all of the marketing ads that you see geared toward the idea of “New Year, New You”—gym memberships, beauty products, and so many more. When we see these ads, they drive us to think about our own resolutions.
And, to be honest, people like the idea of a fresh start. Think about how many times you have made a plan to begin again. My diet will start tomorrow. Next year, I will go back to school. On Monday, I will start exercising. The start of a new year gives us something definitive (although a bit arbitrary): a starting point.
But in order to maintain these resolutions, it is important to first recognize the purpose. According to a U.S. News & World Report, 80% of New Year’s resolutions fail by February. When it comes to new year's resolutions, it is all about growth. We need to ask ourselves what is motivating us to grow or change. Think about why creating a resolution is important to you. Is it something you have just “always done “or has someone asked you to do it with them? Discovering the reason behind your resolutions can help keep you motivated.
Here are five things you can do to help you keep your New Year’s resolution in 2020.
1. Think about what will be different once you achieve your goal.
In psychology, this practice is called the miracle question and is part of solution-focused therapy. Asking yourself what will be different can be a helpful exercise to evaluate what may currently be standing in the way of you achieving those goals. For example, if your goal is to pay off your credit card debt this year, what is keeping you from doing that currently? It is important to determine what your current obstacles might be.
2. Set SMART goals.
SMART stands for specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and timely. For example, do not just say your resolution is “to lose weight.” Instead, say, “I want to lose five pounds by June 1.” You want to make sure your resolutions are realistic—for most people, five pounds is realistic but 50 is not (at least not in a short period of time).
3. Start small.
Are you a full-time student who is also working two jobs? Maybe you have kids or a family member to take care of. If so, thinking you are also going to be able to add in two hours a day at the gym to that schedule is probably not realistic, so it is important to think about how you might be able to achieve your goal given your current circumstances. Small changes matter!
4. Hold yourself accountable.
Research has shown that people who write down their goals are more likely to achieve them. Write your resolutions down where you will see and be reminded of them. Consider telling someone about your goals so they can hold you accountable also. Better yet, enlist people to help you—use the buddy system and make a pact to stick together.
5. Keep track of where you are starting.
Sometimes it is hard to see our progress when we are in the thick of it. Make sure you are writing down your starting point. This can also help you stay on track so you can see your progress (even if it is in baby steps).
Achieving your resolution is like climbing a mountain. If you only look at the top, it may seem impossible to get there. However, if you can look back and see how far you have come, it will give you the encouragement and motivation to continue on and finish it.
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