New Year's Resolution list

Write more effective resolutions

It’s a new year! As much as 40% of Americans make new year’s resolutions each year but fewer than 1 in 10 report sticking to them. I wrote my first resolutions as a teenager, and I’ve learned a lot about what works and doesn’t in holding yourself accountable. Here are a few tips I’ve learned that I thought might help some of you!

(1) Make them rewarding!

Picture yourself reviewing these resolutions a year from now. What would you be proud to say you’ve accomplished? What would make you happy? What might be a fun memory or help you get to another goal of yours?

(2) Make your resolutions something for *you,* not for anyone else.

If losing weight or being on time is really something you want to be able to do, you have a much better chance of accomplishing that than if you’re pursuing that for someone else or for “society.”

(3) Determine which of two big types of resolutions you’re choosing to inform your strategy:

  • Get it done: That thing you’ve been putting off or always wanted to do; resolutions are great ways to just get done something you’ve talked or thought about doing for years!
  • Create a habit: That quality you’ve wanted or that ritual you want to become natural. These are trickier but longer-lasting. To get there, you need a specific first step. Read more here.

(4) Make them “SMART,”

That is just a fancy way of saying make them specific and measurable, so on Dec. 31 it will be very clear if you did or did not reach them.

(5) Write your resolutions down.

Print them out and hang them somewhere you see them regularly — your office, the bathroom or in your kitchen. Don’t lose sight, literally and metaphorically.

(6) Schedule a mid-year or even quarterly check.

Put an hour on your calendar on a future Friday afternoon to check in on your resolutions. Are you making progress? Are you stuck? Give yourself the chance to restart if you fall off.

(7) Create a commitment device.

Pair something you like with something you want to do. For example, buy yourself the fancy coffee only on days you go to the gym. Or better yet, agree with a friend to hold each other accountable for your goals. if someone checks in on you, you’re much more likely to stick to your resolution.

(8) Keep em simple

Better to have one clear goal written on an index card than a rambling assortments. This is not your to-do list but your top priority. If you do have more, make them straight-forward enough that you can recall them top of mind

(9) Make it a ritual!

Each December, I recap the year prior and think about the next year. I never hit all my resolutions. Sometimes I was too ambitious, sometimes I just changed my mind. But this has become one of my favorite traditions and investments in me.

Humans have recorded and celebrated new year’s resolutions dating back at least 4,000 years to the Babylonians, and modern versions are centuries old. The new year is a great a psychological trick to get yourself to set and accomplish your goals. Be kind to yourself! Happy New Year and good luck!

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