And How to Keep Them
Every year, millions make New Year’s resolutions. Each year, themes include better health and fitness, finances, and personal and professional development.
Setting goals is a promise to yourself and your dreams. It would be best if you took responsibility for your actions. A structure of goals keeps you on track and motivated.
Deadlines and milestones help you stay focused and disciplined. Stick to your plan and work hard every day to develop habits that help you succeed in your career and personal life.
You may recognise several of the top 10 resolutions:
• Exercise more
• Lose weight
• Get organised
• Learn a new skill or hobby
• Save more money / spend less money
• Quit smoking
• Spend more time with family and friends
• Travel more
Fulfilling New Year’s resolutions
After the excitement of a new year fades, many people struggle to follow through. The Journal of Clinical Psychology found that 46% of New Year’s resolutions were kept. That means over half of New Year’s goal-setters fail!
The study also included non-resolvers who had a goal but had not made a New Year’s resolution. Only 4% of non-resolvers achieved their goals, a much lower rate than those who did.
So if you don’t want to be one of the people who fail to achieve their 2024 resolutions, follow these 10 steps:
1. Prepare mentally for change
Step back and prepare for the change before starting your New Year’s goals. Changing habits is hard.
Inventorying oneself is the first step towards change. The end of one year and the start of the next are ideal times to reflect on past achievements. Consider these:
• What were my goals for the past year?
• Where did I progress?
• Where was progress lacking?
Your resolution may focus on areas that need improvement but appreciate the progress and find a way to celebrate. Happy feelings are helpful!
Keep positive with your new resolution to recall last year’s successes when you feel challenged.
When considering changes, do the following:
• Be positive
• Avoid abrupt changes
• Make gradual changes
• Build on more minor changes
• Allow for error
2. Set a motivating goal
It’s surprising how often people set goals for others. Managers, spouses, and parents or peers may dictate these goals.
While external support is excellent, the resolution may fail if you don’t share the same passion.
To do this, ensure your goal is important to you and only you and that achieving it benefits you. These two factors will motivate action. It’s also called motivation!
It’s safe to say your resolutions match these:
• Your goals and priorities
You should align your resolutions with your top priorities and your deepest desires. It will become a “must-do” attitude.
Creating a professional development plan can help you stay motivated to achieve career goals, like improving your Excel skills.
3. Limit resolutions to reasonable numbers
Setting too many resolutions and spreading yourself too thin is a common mistake. We want to learn 25 languages, 15 new job skills, and change five bad habits, but we are not superheroes. Too many resolutions can make it hard to reach your goals because we only have so much time for self-improvement.
Make a short list of resolutions you can keep in the coming year. Choosing a few priorities is difficult. Knowing how to prioritise is key.
Write self-improvement goals on Post-its and place them on the wall. Use as many Post-its as possible. Combine similar post-its. Display your passions at the top of the wall.
The final step is understanding your limits and bandwidth. With that in mind, prioritise your top priorities while balancing how much time you can devote to a resolution.
4. Be specific
Setting bad resolutions can lead to poor follow-through. The SMART goal-setting framework can help you set better goals.
The SMART goals are:
• Specific: Specify and clarify the resolution. Quitting smoking is better than being healthy. While “being healthy” is great, it has many meanings.
• Measurable: Set a specific goal, such as losing 10% of body weight.
• Attainable: Set achievable but challenging goals. Making 100 friends this year would be fantastic, but unlikely. However, making ten friends is possible.
• Relevant: Keep it relevant to your priorities and goals. See above for motivation!
• Time-bound: Set time constraints to achieve goals. A deadline will create urgency and allow you to celebrate your success.
5. Break big goals into smaller ones
We often need to be more ambitious with resolutions. We may accidentally set an impossible goal with the best of intentions. Thus, breaking a big goal into smaller, more manageable goals helps.
By breaking your tactical plan into steps, you can rule the world by year’s end.
6. Make a list of your goals
Goals are great, but they must be documented.
Here are six reasons to write goals:
- They’re easily overlooked. This may seem silly, but we humans are easily distracted and forgetful.
- Write down your resolutions to clarify your goals. It makes you decide and speak clearly.
- Writing down your goals reminds you to act.
- Written goals can filter and guide opportunities. Daily, there are a million choices. Your goals should guide you when in doubt.
- Documented goals help overcome resistance to progress. We aim to progress, but change is hard. When you hit a roadblock, your written goals motivate you.
- Written goals remind you of your progress and accomplishments. Looking back at the end of next year and seeing your resolution come true is nice. The occasion calls for a celebration.
This simple goal-setting course will help you set better goals and create a feasible path to achieve them.
Here are some ways to record your New Year’s resolutions:
• Write them in a journal
• Email yourself
• Store in Evernote or other note-taking tools
• Print and tape to the wall
7. Tell others your resolutions
If a tree falls in a forest without witnesses, does it make a sound?
It’s good to resolve yourself and write it down, but if no one else knows, it’s easy to forget or ignore. If you fail, no one will care.
However, your counterparts who shared their goal feel differently. After declaring their goal, they feel obligated and accountable. If you don’t follow through, they’ll disappoint everyone.
Believe it or not, guilt can motivate more than self-motivation. The people you share it with will celebrate with you if you succeed!
8. Automate when possible
A timely stitch saves nine.
Reminder apps help you stick to your resolution.
Today, there are a million apps and services to help you keep your resolutions. Use these free tools to remind yourself:
- Schedule recurring meetings on Google Calendar based on your resolutions, such as gym workouts.
- Google Now is a personal assistant that provides information as needed.
- Set up timed task reminders on iOS.
- Boomerang for Gmail Schedules Self-Reminder Emails.
In addition to these popular apps, “to-do list” and task management apps can schedule reminders and milestones.
9. Regularly review your resolution.
Regular reviews are essential to achieving your goal.
We recommend monthly reviews, but more frequent is better.
How to incorporate goal review into your routine.
Monthly “big picture” reviews should be done in the first week. This is a planning meeting to assign smaller tasks and goals to different weeks of the month.
Monthly goal progress should be checked weekly.
Set daily reminders for smaller resolutions.
Though thinking about your resolution daily may seem crazy, those small incremental steps lead to massive changes over a year.
10. Right yourself quickly if you fall off
Rome wasn’t built in a day.
Change is hard, and your resolutions will take time to achieve. We already agreed to allow for mistakes and setbacks.
• Skipping an intermediate task is not a complete failure
• Missing a goal by 10% or 80% is not a complete failure
• Finishing a task late is not a complete failure
• A moment of weakness is insignificant in the big picture
If setbacks are handled properly, they won’t affect the big goal. Always avoid defeatism, such as “Well, I screwed up once, why should I even try to do this anymore.”
When you fail, you should learn what caused it and how to avoid it in the future.
Own your mistakes and move on. If you missed a study session, make up tomorrow and keep going. A few minor errors shouldn’t ruin your year-long resolution!
If you have trouble keeping up with your goals, speak with our therapist.
We wish you a happy new year!