According to statistics I just made up, approximately a poop-ton of people will make New Year’s resolutions this year, and the percentage of them that will fail basically rounds up to 100%.
So, now that we have that background information out of the way, it’s time for some easy tips that will help you be in the successful millionth of a percent that will keep their resolutions.
- Put it in writing! I’m sure most of you have heard about the study done on the 1979 Harvard Business school class looking at career earnings based on the goals they set in college. Those that had concrete goals out-earned those who didn’t by a 2:1 margin. Those who had concrete goals that they put in writing made about 10x as much money as the other people who didn’t put their goals in writing. If you’re serious about keeping your resolutions, put them in writing, and keep the note in a place you see it frequently – on your bathroom mirror or the refrigerator. The difference between keeping your resolutions and failing could be as simple as writing them down.
- Have a plan. The difference between a dream and a goal is a plan. If you want to keep your resolution, have a plan for how you’re going to carry it through. Be as specific as possible. Don’t just say “I want to lose weight.” Or “I want to start working out.” Have concrete steps. Add: “I’ll start counting calories and stop drinking soda” or “I’ll watch an hour less of TV daily to make time for the gym.” Not having a plan is like taking a trip without a map (or a Google Maps app…)
- Have a plan to get back on track. Odds are, you’ll slip up eventually. This is the step most people forget about, but it’s a make or break issue. Most of us go off script from time to time. You’ll cheat on your diet or miss the gym for a few days. Make sure you have constant reminders to get you back on the bandwagon when you slip up. A weekly alarm on Sunday afternoon to remind you to cook meals for the next few days, or to schedule time for the gym can be the difference between slipping up for a few days and getting back on track, or going into free fall for weeks or months, ultimately giving up.
- Have accountability. Accountability is different for different people. Some people do best if they broadcast their goal to a bunch of people, so they’ll be motivated by the fear of lots of people knowing they messed up. Some people do best if they find a close friend with similar goals, so they can check in on each other from time to time. Find a method of accountability that works best for you, but most importantly, have SOMETHING to keep you accountable.
- Make it a huge goal (one worth shooting for). Make a big enough goal that it motivates you to shoot for it. Don’t sell yourself short. If you’d like to lose 50 pounds, but you feel like 15 is more realistic, go with 50 anyways. You know you wouldn’t be THAT excited if you just lost 15. You need a goal that, when you think about achieving it, it makes you legitimately excited. Be a little audacious.
- Have smaller checkpoints (so it’s manageable). This is the flip side for number 5. If you have a huge goal, it can be intimidating when you think about tackling the whole thing. So have smaller goals along the way. As you hit them, the tangible progress toward your larger goal will keep you motivated.
- Do it for YOU (self-motivated). Don’t pick a goal because someone else wants you to do something. Pick something because YOU want it for YOU, not someone else. According to the philosophers behind the movie 300, free men fight harder than slaves. Don’t be subject to someone else’s goals for you. Pursue your own vision you have for yourself and your future this year and into the future.