New Year's ResolutionHow many times have you made a New Year’s Resolution, only to give up on it by February? Well, you’re not alone. But that doesn’t mean you should throw in the towel completely. There is something to be said about taking advantage of a fresh start and setting new goals. If you really want to turn it around next year, let’s take a look at a few things you should and shouldn’t do. Starting with why we make New Year’s Resolutions to begin with.

How did we start making New Year’s Resolutions in the first place?

It all started 4,000 years ago with the Babylonians who celebrated in March when they planted their crops. They would make promises to the gods in hopes of finding favor in the upcoming year. Their promises were primarily about repaying debts and returning anything they had borrowed.

In about 46 B.C., the Romans began celebrating in January, marking the first of the month as the beginning of the New Year. Similar to the Babylonians, they would make promises to their god that they would do good deeds in the upcoming year.

And so it came to be that we celebrate the New Year, in part, by making promises about what we’ll do in the New Year… better known as New Year’s Resolutions.

(For all you history buffs, you can read the full history of New Year’s Resolutions here.)

What do New Year’s Resolutions look like now and how good are we at keeping them?

According to a recent study, the top four types of resolutions focus on self-development, weight, money, and relationships. That same study found that 41% of Americans make New Year’s Resolutions but only about 9% of them felt they were successful in achieving them. While our intentions are good, it seems, our follow through is lacking.

Why are Resolutions so hard to keep?

According to SHAPE Magazine, these are the top 10 reasons why we fail to keep our resolutions:

  1. You go it alone.
  2. You set extremely lofty resolutions.
  3. You give up too early.
  4. You don’t manage your time well.
  5. There’s a financial strain associated with your resolution.
  6. You set an unrealistic resolution.
  7. You don’t create a plan.
  8. You’re not being honest with yourself.
  9. You have the wrong perspective.
  10. You don’t believe in yourself.

What can we do instead, to be more successful?

New Year's ResolutionForbes contributor, Kevin Kruse, interviewed one of the leading experts in behavior change, psychologist Paul Marciano. Dr. Marciano is the author of Carrots and Sticks Don’t Work and he specializes in the area of behavior modification and engagement.

Dr. Marciano says achieving your goals isn’t about willpower. It’s about developing the right skills, executing strategies, and having the patience that inevitably lead to success.

Follow these 3 practical steps to reach your goals in 2018:

Get real about what it will take.

While there’s no harm in setting a big goal, you won’t achieve it if you don’t have the right skills, knowledge, or resources it requires.

New Year's Resolution

Do you want to lose 50 pounds this year? Consider everything that goes into losing weight: working out, eating right, etc. Do you know the most effective way to lose weight for your body? Do you know how to properly workout at the gym? Do you need a trainer? Maybe you need to read up on nutrition to help supplement your workout regime.

Is your goal to pay off your credit card debt? Do you know your credit score, your credit card interest rate, or your total dollar amount of debt to date? Are there people, books, online resources that can help educate you and guide you in the right direction? Gather those tools!

Grab a pen and paper, consider your goal, and write down all the things you need to do, learn, or acquire and the resources you’ll need in order to really be successful. This list is going to be your guide in the next step.

Make a plan unique to YOU.

Now that you know what you need, how can you make it happen? This is not the time to compare yourself to others. Don’t decide on a particular workout routine or diet simply because it’s popular right now. Come up with a strategy that works for you and your lifestyle.

New Year's ResolutionTake the list you just made and begin to break it down into small steps. According to USA Today, Setting small goals can make success easier to achieve and limit the chances of giving up because of missing a goal.” Be specific with each step so you’ll know exactly what action you need to take, and schedule it in your calendar so you know exactly when to do it. If you don’t make time for it, you won’t do it.

Another important aspect of your plan is to make it measureable and monitor your progress as you go. The New York Times suggests Logging progress into a journal or making notes on your phone or in an app designed to help you track behaviors can reinforce the progress, no matter what your resolution may be.” Decide on a tracking method that best suits you and schedule in time to review your progress throughout the year.

Be patient and believe in yourself.

New Year's ResolutionPart of committing to your goals is committing to and believing in yourself. You might be tempted to skip past this step and run full steam ahead, but don’t. You’ll miss out on the key ingredient that will keep you going when things get tough.

Take some time to dig deep and see the best in yourself. Use your journal to write out some reasons why you set this particular goal. Consider all the positive ways it will enhance your life. Also write down all the reasons you KNOW you can accomplish the task. Return to that any time you’re feeling discouraged or like you want to quit.

Remember that you have a whole year to reach your goal. You don’t have to make it happen overnight. Be patient and kind with yourself.

“Any transition is easier if you believe in yourself and your talent.” – Priyanka Chopra

So cheers to the New Year and get ready to reach all your goals. Follow these three steps and you’re well on your way to making it a great year. Remember to be honest and realistic, create a plan unique to you, and continue to be patient and believe in yourself. You totally got this.

What are your goals for the New Year? Share with us in the comments below!

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  1. These are great ways to keep your New Years resolutions. I like that you recommend creating a plan. This year I have decided to make goals instead. I feel like “goals” make a person feel more in control and responsible for the ultimate outcome. Hoping to make this year count!

  2. These are great tips, it’s important to be realistic about your aims and not feel guilty when you don’t achieve all you hoped for!

  3. I love the part about “you have the whole year”. I think a lot of us forget that! We think that if we fail in Jan then we can’t start again until next year!

  4. Thank you for a wonderful post. I do keep a journal myself and update it yearly with goals that I try so hard to reach within the year. Well, most of them are doable except for one goal that seems to always get out of hand – Lose weight. And I still have it on my list for this 2018 hoping that this year will be different.

  5. I love these! I have a similar post and I agree with these completely! I also believe you can’t be expected to start a lot of changes in one day. Take your time and start when you are ready!

  6. @Ashley – Setting goals feels so much more tangible to me than just a resolution. And goals usually go hand in hand with creating a plan, so the outcome is clearly defined and achievable. Good luck with your goals this year!

  7. @Amanda – Yes! That simple shift in perspective has totally changed things for me. I think that’s also why I like the idea of setting “goals” because it’s implied that it’s something you’re working towards, rather than something you’re going to change over night.

  8. @DSM – losing weight is such a tough one! Sometimes, for me, remembering why I set the goal is a huge motivator in actually reaching the goal. And don’t be too hard on yourself! Every little step in the right direction counts!


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