How to make New Year's resolutions you'll keep

Posted on Thursday, August 20, 2015

New Year's morning is like a clean slate. You can put the excesses of the previous year (and the December holiday) behind you and make a fresh start. The world is your oyster and you can be anything you want to be all you have to do is stick to your New Year's resolutions. And that's where the problem usually starts

Research suggests that only 8% of people who make resolutions actually stick to them. Those aren't particularly encouraging odds. It's easy to make a resolution at the tail end of a holiday, but as soon as you get back into the rut of work and life and earning and having no time, your resolution becomes next year's problem. Again. But it doesn't have to be that way. You can improve your chances of New Year's resolution success with this advice:

1. Make your resolution achievable and measurable
There's no point in resolving to be a millionaire by 31 December 2015 if your only way of getting there is winning the lottery. Likewise, get fit is pointless if you can convince yourself you've achieved it by walking once around the block in January. Carefully research any target you set yourself to make sure that it's realistic. And then state an actual measurable outcome that you want to achieve, like saving 10% of your salary for ten months or being able to run 9km in an hour by June.

2. Identify the hurdles
Most of us know how we want to improve in the coming year but it's also important to look back and work out what prevented us from getting there in the last 12 months.  They say that a definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results, so if you haven't changed your process, you can't expect a different outcome. Look at the obstacles that stood in your way and make plans for blasting through them in 2015. No time for gym? Arrange morning lifts for the kids. Eat junk when you're hungry? Take a healthy snack box to work every day.

3. Set short-term goals, with short-term rewards
Break your ultimate goal down into shorter, more easily achievable milestones and give yourself little rewards along the way for achieving them. A 10kg weight loss in 12 months seems unachievable and very far away on 1 January, but if you allow yourself a little treat every time you lose a kilo in under a month, you'll feel motivated to stick to your path.

4. Go public
This is a controversial point and it doesn't work for everyone, but if you're the kind of person who likes to share your story and enlist the involvement of your friends, then announce your resolution on social media the moment the second hand ticks past midnight. Then share regular monthly updates detailing the trials and joys of your journey towards your goal. You'll find the support of your friends is a great motivator and the fear or admitting to failure is a great deterrent.

5. Don't plan for the setbacks, but allow for them
Don't start the journey intending to fail, but if you do fall off the resolution wagon and have a cigarette, blow your salary or miss a week of gym, don't give up. Accept that it happened, dust yourself off and get back on track. Don't let small setbacks become massive failures. Make it part of your resolution at the outset to get back up every time you fall.

Good luck and happy New Year
We know it isn't easy, but if you approach it right and enjoy the process, self-improvement can be extremely rewarding. Pin your resolutions down with these tips and go into 2015 with the courage to achieve your resolutions because you have a roadmap for getting there.

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