6 Tips for Keeping New Year's Resolutions

If you are one of the millions of people making New Year’s resolutions this year, you are going to have to face the fact: The odds are against you. The average length of time it takes to give up the promises you made to yourself leading up to New Year’s Day is 6 weeks; not the most encouraging news! However, there are steps you can take to give you an edge on the majority of resolution makers and breakers.

1. Have an accountability partner.

There is a reason why most addiction anonymous groups have one – it works. Having someone else keeping an eye on your goals will help motivate you to stick to your commitment. If that person also has a similar goal, you are likely to find even greater success encouraging each other. How often have you heard that exercising with a partner has better outcomes? Go and find yourself that partner.

2. Choose something realistic.

Don’t set yourself up for failure by making a goal where the odds are against you. If you have never written before, becoming a best selling author in one year might be hard to accomplish. Instead, decide to write a novel in the coming year. You can also put finding an agent or submitting the novel to a publishing house on your to do list. Your goals should not only be attainable, but healthy. If you want to lose weight, don’t strive to lose 100 pounds in a month. That is definitely not the healthiest way to go. 1 ½ pounds a week is considered healthy weight loss.

3. Reward milestones.

There was a company looking for new ways to encourage their employees to live a healthier lifestyle. After getting a list of interested participants, people were put into different groups and had a certain amount of time to see how many miles they could walk collectively. The winners were rewarded monetarily in this case, but the reward can be catered to one’s specific goal.

4. Make positive rather than negative resolutions.

Actually, this is a great New Year’s resolution in itself. Far too many people are negative and negativity translates into discouragement. As soon as a person agrees to stop spending so much money, the money starts flying out the window. It’s almost as if using the words “no” or “don’t” subliminally says “yes” and “do” If the resolution was reworded to say “I will save $1000 this year on various expenses” there is a challenge there to see if you can really do it.

5. Don’t give up after backsliding.

Mark Twain once said “Giving up smoking is the easiest thing in the world. I know because I’ve done it thousands of times.’ Habits die hard. In fact, habits form pathways in your brain. The only way to give up a habit is to replace it with another, stronger one. The process can be painful, but every time you try to change the path, you learn things that work and don’t work. Then, the next time you start, you are better equipped to fight temptations. Get up, brush yourself off, and try again.

6. Review resolutions regularly

An easy way to do that is to write down your resolution to begin with. This in itself helps your success rate. Parents have become very familiar with chore charts and good behavior charts. Why not take that idea and incorporate it into your effort to make changes in your life. Make a daily, weekly, or monthly chart to keep track of your progress. Prominently display New Year’s Resolutions where you spend a lot of time. Put a monthly reminder in your phone to review the resolutions you made and make necessary adjustments.

We all could take time every now and then to reevaluate where we are at and where we want to be. New Year’s gives us the excuse we need to do that. Don’t feel silly using it as a springboard to make the changes you want. May you find the success you desire in the coming year.