How to Develop Effective New Year’s Resolutions That You Will Keep

new years resolutions‘Tis the season to make New Year’s resolutions, but all too often they’re broken within a few days or weeks. We came up with a few ways to help make resolutions that you’re more likely to keep.

Do you really need to make resolutions?

For some people, using the word resolution dooms their plans. Maybe you should create a plan, set a goal, or make a decision.

Write it down.

To be successful in hitting your goal or resolution, you need a written plan of action. Take 30 minutes and write down what you want, why you want it, and how you plan to reach it. When your motivation wanes in the coming weeks, you’ll have that to look back on.

Be realistic.

Is losing 50 pounds in 2012 a goal that you can see yourself reaching? How about quitting smoking for the 10th time, or exercising every day? Be honest with yourself and set a goal that you can hit. Maybe 25 pounds, cutting down to ½ pack a day, or exercising three times a week are more realistic goals right now.

Focus on the short term instead of the long term.

Look at what you can do now rather than what you plan to do 6 months or a year from now. Using the examples above, focus on the month of January instead of the entire year. Decide to lose a pound a week, cut down by two cigarettes a day, or take up a new activity like Zumba or walking the dog after dinner.

Break down your resolutions into bite-sized chunks instead of trying to choke down a big goal.

Expect that things may not go the way you planned.

Most good plans have a monkey wrench thrown in at some point, and your New Year’s resolution is no different. Maybe in March you’ll hit a weight loss plateau, or your plan to quit will go up in smoke—how will you handle it? You may decide to make diet or exercise changes, or you may decide to quit smoking again.

You need to be flexible enough to roll with the punches and not feel defeated when things don’t work out as you had planned.

What has helped you to make successful New Year’s Resolutions?