January first has become known as the magical, mystical day that you can resurrect yourself and start anew. We get to come up with that grand, ambitious goal or some habit we want to start, end, or improve upon for the rest of the year, and call it a New Year’s Resolution. Lose weight, eat healthier, quit smoking – you know the gist. But then you roll out of bed on January first, rising from the dead after a night of torturing your liver, or just procrastinating the start of this ‘new year, new me’ thing. That sparkly, shiny New Year’s Resolution doesn’t seem so exciting now that you actually have to do it.
Not surprisingly, only 8 percent of people are actually successful in achieving their New Year’s resolution. I’ve yet to be successful myself, so one of my resolutions is to successfully complete one! Because it’s so easy to give up or call it quits, here are a few key tricks that will keep you determined and on the right track.
Make your goal achievable… actually. We’d all love to drop weight overnight, quit a bad habit cold turkey, or buy that dream house for a few million dollars. Most of the time, that just isn’t going to happen. In order to achieve your ‘big’ goal, you need to reel it in a little bit. One big goal can seem like a daunting task and an overwhelming amount of work, looming over our heads as simply impossible. By breaking this goal down into smaller, achievable steps, the task is more realistic. For example, one of my ‘big’ goals is to try and have a portfolio of work done when I graduate to give me some experience and a leg up. So I decided I would blog more this year. It’s a great start to a New Year’s Resolution, but it isn’t just enough quite yet. We have a little more refining to do, which leads to the next tip.
Give yourself deadlines based on smaller goals. Wanting to ‘blog more’ means nothing. There are so many ways to get lost in that concept and end up floating in limbo. Vague goals are harder to fulfill, and make it harder still to remain motivated.
It’s important to a clearly define, tangible goal, so I decided that I will post a blog once a week. But I won’t be posting a blog once a week whenever I get around to it. I specified even more – posting once every Wednesday. Setting a goal is great, but without creating a plan there’s no way to keep track of progress. Creating steps and deadlines will make your ‘big goal’ seem less tantalizing and will help keep your progress on track.
Write your goals down. It’s one thing to come up with New Year’s Resolution; it’s another to actually pursue it. A study done by Dr. Gail Matthews, a psychology professor at the Dominican University in California, found that “you become 42% more likely to achieve your goals and dreams, simply by writing them down on a regular basis.” Writing down your goals works because it engages both halves of your brain: the logic-based left hemisphere through writing the goal down, and the imaginative right through just thinking about the goal. By making a conscious effort to direct both physical and mental attention to your goal, you’re letting your brain know that you mean business!
Most importantly, make sure your goal is something you actually want. Just like playing a sport, you aren’t going to do very well if both your head and heart aren’t in it. Just because your friends are going vegetarian or your mom wants you to take up knitting with her doesn’t mean you have to, too. Your resolution should be something that you want, for whatever reason that may be. If it’s something you’re passionate about achieving, you’re chances of reaching that goal are already higher!
Completing a New Year’s Resolution takes discipline and dedication, but is totally doable. This time next year, hopefully we can tick off the goal of actually completing a New Year’s Resolution.