The Formula to a Successful New Year's Resolution

by Brittany McNabb

January 1st is just around the corner and that means the arrival of that running list of New Year's resolutions. If you're a believer in New Year's resolutions, new beginnings, and self-betterment, then maybe you set a few resolutions on the first of the year...but do you keep them? In a study done by the University of Scranton, in 2013 just 8% of people achieved their resolution goal. (45% of people set a resolution at the first of the year.)

Happy New Year 2015 Photo

So why don't we seem to keep up with these resolutions? It might be that we are distracted, forgetful, busy, or that we are not setting manageable goals to begin with. If you really want to achieve your goal this year, here are five helpful suggestions as you set your New Year's resolution.

1. Make it explicit.

In the same study conducted by the University of Scranton, it was observed that people who explicitly make resolutions are 10 times more likely to reach their goals than people who don’t explicitly make resolutions. This means writing it down for yourself, telling a friend, or finding another way to make your resolution clear and detailed in your mind. There should be no wiggle room in determining what you really intend to achieve.

2. Make it specific.

At the beginning of the month you can feel elated, ambitious, and ready for what the new year will bring. This means grand resolutions of "Losing weight!" or "Exercising more!" or "Being happier!" These ideas are great but may not be the most successful design of a resolution. Making your resolution more specific can make it easier to follow. For example, "Sweets only on weekends", "Exercising for 30 minutes a day, 5 days a week", or "Listing five things you are grateful for every Monday of the week." The key is to set yourself up for success by specifying what you really want to accomplish.

3. Make it measurable.

Make New Years Resolutions Measurable

Making your resolution measurable can help you track your success and really give you momentum. Keys to making your goal measurable include answering the questions, "How much?", "How many?", or "How will I know I am achieving my goal?" For example, specifying how many days a week you want to exercise, how much weight you want to lose, how many charities you want to volunteer for, how many good deeds you want to do a week, or setting up a journal where you keep track of your progress. 

4. Make it relevant.

A New Year's resolution is personal. What you want to achieve this year might not be what someone else wants to achieve. By making your resolution relevant to you, you will find more motivation within yourself. You may also want to reflect on what is truly important in your life right now and in the coming year. You may have an overall goal that you want to value your family more in 2015. If that is the case, a relevant resolution could be to call your parents once a week or write a letter to a family member each week. If you want to take advantage of more opportunities in 2015, a relevant resolution could be to make a list of 25 new things you want to try and stick to them. Whatever you see as most important in your life, make your resolution relevant to that.

5. Make it realistic.

2014 To 2015

To make a resolution realistic means making it one which you are willing and able to achieve. You should be true to yourself when setting a resolution. If you are by nature a night owl, it is not realistic to say that you will get to bed by 10PM every night. If you have a sweet tooth, it may not be realistic to say that you will avoid sweets for a whole year (and you probably don't want to!). It is okay to leave room for missteps in your resolutions. This is why specifics like "5 days a week" or "20 minutes a day" are helpful. You are setting realistic expectations for yourself versus setting yourself up for failure. By being true to yourself you will be able to pick and keep a reasonable resolution. 

So, do you have any ideas for resolutions? How do you plan on setting yourself up for success? Feel free to comment and share below!

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