It’s that time of year again. A new beginning, a clean slate. But how often do you actually make good on your New Year’s resolutions? If the answer is “not very,” you’ll want to read the seven ideas below that can help you follow through in 2016. The start of a new year naturally creates incentive for making changes. Days that seem like transition points motivate people to take advantage of the “fresh-start effect,” research shows. Birthdays, the beginning of a semester, and the start of a new week all fall under this new transition time.
This feeling of a new beginning appears to empower and make it easier to leave our past self and failures behind and embrace our new potential for success moving forward, researchers surmised. A new year represents a new chance to start over and try again.
1. Get clear
You can’t get to your destination if you don’t know where you’re going. If you want to lose weight, take that dream vacation, fall in love or watch more episodes of The Good Wife, get clear about what specifically you want and why you want it and identify at least three steps on how you’re going to get there.
2. Take the first step
Once you have a clear vision of what you want to accomplish, begin turning that into reality. If you’re stuck, take the first step to finding the resources to help you achieve that goal. This may include hiring a coach, reading travel books or signing up on a dating site.
3. Follow through
It’s not enough just to plan and take the first step. Once you have your game plan, follow it. Think of your New Year’s resolution the way you would a business plan. It does no good to have one if you don’t use it. Set manageable goals, include some rewards, find an accountability partner and keep track of your progress. This enables you to stay motivated and get consistent results.
4. Reign yourself in
Our impulse might be to eat a lot of junk food or waste time on social media instead of using it more productively. To override those impulses, we need willpower, or what psychologists call self-regulatory strength. If we can get ourselves to exercise willpower in small, everyday behaviors — maybe we resist the temptation to get the candy bar when we’re in the checkout line at the grocery store — those are the opportunities that allow our self-regulatory strength to grow. The more you practice, the easier it becomes.
5. Expand your reach
In midlife, it’s tempting to have all your New Year’s resolutions focused on dealing with home life and empty nest syndrome if your kids have left. A better approach is one that enhances multiple areas of your life. For example, resolving to live in the moment helps achieve both personal and career goals.
A long list of resolutions makes it less likely you’ll be able to do all of them, so order them. If you already feel as if you’re being spread too thin, you likely will not be able to keep multiple New Year’s resolutions. To edit your list, first rank your resolutions in order of importance and then keep only the top few. This gives you a better chance of meeting your goals.
7. Align yourself
Ask yourself if your resolutions align with your values. If you’re crafting resolutions that are not in line with your values reevaluate your list and replace the resolutions with ones that are more cohesive to your overall goals. Otherwise you’re setting yourself up to fail.