How to Make Resolutions You’ll Actually Keep

January 4, 2011

By Dr. Carolyn Anderson

If you’re like most people you start off the New Year full of determination to make this your best year yet. You’re going to get in shape, eat better, all while developing your hobbies and paying off those holiday bills.

I’m not saying these are impossible goals but without the following tips you’ll find yourself repeating the same resolutions next year.

10 Tips to Keep Your New Year’s Resolutions

1. Write Your Resolutions Down
Regardless of whether you use a simple piece of paper or an elaborate flow-chart you need to write down your resolutions. Without committing your goals to paper it is easy to forget about them.

2. Be Realistic
If you’re currently a couch potato don’t expect to be winning ironman triathlons by the end of the year. You could run a triathlon if you train hard but look at your schedule to see what you can realistically achieve within a year.

If you make an overly ambitious goal you’ll end up frustrated and disappointed at the end.
If you have an ambitious goal make it a 5 year goal and decide how far you want to be by the end of 2011.

3. Make Specific Resolutions
Don’t just say you want to get healthy. You need a specific measureable goal so you can track your progress. Make a goal to lose a certain amount of weight or be able to run a 5k race.
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4. Break Your Goal Down
If you only look at the end goal you may feel overwhelmed. You need to break your goal down into smaller more manageable parts so you can gradually accomplish.

If you want to run a race, set a schedule to gradually train up to the distance you want to run. As an entrepreneur you may want to commit to reading your industry magazine and business books on a regular basis.

5. Set Gradual Deadlines
If you’re like most people you are motivated by deadlines. Too often we put things on the backburner while attend to someone else’s list of priorities. Make a deadline for something like paying off a certain credit card. Trying to meet the deadline can motivate you to forgo that unnecessary extravagant purchase in order to meet your deadline.

6. Think “Do” not “Don’t”
Don’t focus on the things you shouldn’t do like eating junk food or spending money foolishly. Rather than trying to limit your diet aim instead to incorporate 5-10 servings of fruit a day. If you fill up on healthier things you’ll be less likely to snack on junk food. Don’t starve yourself but aim to have regular meals and snacks.

7. Review Your Resolutions
Some people like to seal up their resolutions so they can review them at the end of the year. But in order to make continuous progress towards your goals you need to review them often. Print your list and put it on your bulletin board or mirror as a consistent reminder. You may even want to set up email or phone reminders to keep you focused.

8. Feel Free to Modify
If your goal to run a marathon was derailed by a knee injury make a new resolution to accommodate your injury. Find a new way to exercise and a new way to track your results. Don’t abandon your goals at the first sight of trouble. Adjust your goals so you can still achieve something.

9. Remind Yourself Why You Made These Goals
I think it is important to write down your motivation for your resolutions. Remind yourself how lethargic and out of shape you feel when you don’t exercise. Remind yourself of the guilt you feel when you’re not living up to your own expectations as a spouse or employee.

Write some short-term reasons why you need to change your behavior and some long-term reasons . For fitness, your short-term goal might be to look good on the beach but long-term exercising helps you live longer and healthier. In the short-term being a better entrepreneur will save from going out of business. In the long-term, you’ll be able to expand and possibly be able to retire sooner.

10. Be Accountable
Share your resolutions with a spouse, friend or co-worker. It’s easy to let ourselves down but if you have someone who cares about you reminding and encouraging you to go after your goals you are much more likely to keep them.
By letting others know your goals they can help you keep them. A friend who knows you are trying to pay down debt will suggest a dinner at home rather than frequenting your favorite restaurant. You may even find someone with the same goal who can work with you to keep both resolutions.

What are your resolutions for the New Year?

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