How to Write Doable New Year Resolutions
Andreea Macoveiciuc | On 31, Dec 2013
If there’s any magic in this world, it certainly peaks on December 31, when New Year Resolutions are written down.
Reflecting on the changes we want to make starting January 1 is surely useful, as the first step in changing something, anything, is taking action and deciding to work toward your goal’s accomplishment. But contrary to popular belief, January 1 does not carry the magic needed for turning one into a better, more active, more responsible or more health-conscious individual overnight.
Apparently, 45 million Americans attempt new diets starting with January. 69% of Australians create NY Resolutions lists, but only 25% of them manage to stick to the promises made on the last day of December.
34% of all people make money related resolutions, and 24% never succeed in accomplishing their goals for the coming year, regardless of the life area they refer to.
I don’t know how many of you will be writing New Year Resolution lists tonight, or what these resolutions will refer to, but if you’re among those people who want a fresh start and see January 1 as a chance to start anew, I have a few suggestions for you.
1. Be personal and specific
First, abandon the regular resolutions – losing weight, spending more time with your loved ones, saving more money and so on. Unless you put on your list things that are very personal and very specific, you’re likely to be among the 54% who never manage to keep their resolutions over 6 months.
Instead of saying you want to lose weight, set a specific goal: drop 6 pounds by July for example. This way you’ll be able to organize your weight loss plan better and to break the goal into smaller and very achievable ones. Losing 1 pound per month is definitely doable, and if you watch your diet and practice physical exercises more often, you’re very likely to achieve this without struggling with your weight loss resolution.
Then, instead of saying you want to spend more time with your friends or family, set a specific goal: see your relatives once a month for example. Instead of “getting more active”, write down “exercise 3 times a week”, as this way you’ll be more likely to achieve your goal and thus you’ll have a sense of achievement even if you don’t manage to hit the gym or do physical exercises 6 days a week.
2. Plan and book ahead
“Visit a new city” sounds like a great resolution, but you’re more likely to achieve it if you also book your accommodation ahead of time and plan your trip in all its important details at least a few weeks before the departure. If your dream for 2014 is to visit Venice, check for accommodation options, get familiar with the weather conditions and local traditions, read about their history and learn as much as you can about the town, before getting there, as this way you’ll benefit a lot more from your visit.
If getting a new job is on your New Year’s Resolution list, don’t expect for this to happen overnight and for employers to suddenly start sending offers to your inbox. It won’t happen, with all the magic out there. Instead, write a great cover letter, update your resume and be realistic with regard to your skills and work accomplishments.
Don’t send your resume to all the job openings out there, as there’s no accomplishment in refusing interview invitations. Instead, start doing your research in order to find the company and position that best fit your profile.
3. Don’t write with social media in mind
If you really want to benefit from your New Year Resolution list, don’t write with social media in mind and avoid doing things just for the sake of some interesting status updates. Focus on your real life, real body, real efforts, real accomplishments and expectations, not on social media likes, statuses, pictures and check-ins.
If you’re doing this list just to have something cool to post on your FB wall or pin on your Pinterest board, you’re very likely to abandon the resolutions within a few weeks or months. This list should be written for yourself only, and pinned on your real wall, in front of your work desk or on your refrigerator.
Seeing the list daily can keep you motivated and help you stick with the resolutions, as well as prevent yourself from inventing excuses for eating unhealthy, killing time with unproductive activities or skipping gym just because you didn’t manage to wake up 1 hour earlier.
If you’re the kind of person who constantly needs others’ support and encouragement for sticking with their goals and action plan, it’s ok to keep your friends updated, especially if they have similar goals, but it’s not ok to hit the gym only for taking cool pics with the equipment. Instead of posting everything on Facebook, keep a journal – it’ll help you track your evolution and will keep private things private.
4. Look for improvement & be ready to practice regularly
Last piece of advice refers to looking for improvement in whatever you do or plan to do. If running a marathon is on your New Year’s Resolution list, start training every day and look for improvement, as unless you practice regularly and take smaller steps, you won’t be able to run the entire distance on the competition day.
Practice makes it better, so regardless of the life area you want to improve in the coming year, keep this in mind and do your best to make time for it, each and every day. Things won’t be different “starting tomorrow”, unless you work toward this and do something different. You won’t get more productive at work unless you stop procrastinating and do your best to accomplish each day more than you did the day before.
You won’t lose weight if you mindlessly eat unhealthy foods and spend your free time on the couch, and you won’t wake up skinnier, smarter or healthier unless you work toward these goals and do what it takes to accomplish them.
You can’t build a new self on old habits, so this evening, before writing your New Year’s Resolution list, take a few minutes to think about your goals, desires and dreams. If you want to make your plans work throughout the year, you need to put on your list some doable and measurable steps, and commit to taking actions and making decisions according to your goals for the coming year.