Make 2015 the year you see your goal through to next December.
As one year nears its end, and the next shines brightly with possibilities on the horizon, people begin to formulate dozens of resolutions for what to do better, more of and different in the new year. With about 40 percent of Americans setting New Year’s resolutions, and only 8 percent of them keeping them, why is it so difficult to follow through?
Quite simply: We tend to set our goals too high, set too many of them, and they focus on broad hopes rather than zeroing in on the one thing we value the most.
Change is hard. And attempting to change several behaviors simultaneously is nearly impossible. As Mark Twain famously said: “I don’t know why people say it’s so hard to quit smoking. I’ve done it hundreds of times myself!”
Indeed, we’re all capable of change, but it’s sustaining the change that matters.
So here are some simple tips for choosing a realistic resolution, changing your behavior and successfully sustaining those changes:
- Focus on one resolution at a time
Abandon the long, unattainable list of resolutions. Instead, choose the thing that’s most important to you right now and focus on that. You may even find that other areas of your life improve naturally as you make progress toward your main goal.
- Take action
No more stating a big hope in abstract terms with no real plan for how to get where you want to be. Think action. Break your goal down into steps and it will become an actionable behavior. It should be measurable, attainable, relevant and time-specific.
- Make yourself accountable
Enlist a buddy or share your goal with family and friends. If social media is your thing, announce it on Facebook or Twitter. These people can all help hold you accountable. Employ a calendar app so you can monitor your progress and hold yourself accountable.
- There will be stumbling blocks
Anticipate obstacles. Putting that extra $30 in savings will be hard when you’d like the new dress. You might want to stay in bed on a cold morning rather than go for that run. Preparing for those bumps and devising solutions ahead of time can help you stay on track.
- Don’t forget that you are human
It’s inevitable that you’re going to have setbacks, but don’t let them derail you. Get back on the horse immediately — don’t wait until the proverbial Monday that never comes to start again. Find new resolve in your shortcomings, evaluate the hurdle and alter your strategy if necessary.
New Year’s is the only holiday that celebrates the passage of time. So don’t stress — enjoy the journey and your newfound commitment to change.
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