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How to Keep New Year's Resolutions

Studies show most pledges are bound for failure. Here are some tips to beat the odds.

We hate to sound pessimistic before the dawn of 2013, but statistics show most people don’t keep their New Year’s resolutions. Sure, the gym may be packed throughout January, but come February, there won’t be a need to wait for an open treadmill.

According to a 2007 study by Richard Wisemen from the University of Bristol, nearly 80 percent of people who set New Year’s resolutions fail. Here’s how you can avoid becoming another statistic and achieve your New Year’s resolution.

Start small

The most popular resolution is to lose weight or stay fit. Not surprisingly, these are the resolutions most people ditch as soon as they get to the nearest fast food joint. Some people set unrealistic resolutions, like losing 15 pounds in two weeks or working out seven days a week when they haven’t worked out at all in three months. Many people overwhelm themselves trying to do too much. So start off small and work your way up to more challenging feats.

Plan out steps to get to your goals

Too often, people focus on the end result, rather than the steps needed to get there. Do your research on what it will take to achieve your goals and make a realistic plan to get from point A to point B. If your resolution is to lose weight, determine a diet plan and a doable exercise regimen. For any of your resolutions, determine the time, effort and money you can realistically commit to that resolution. If your goal is to take up a new hobby like gardening, find a class or join a gardening group that will get you started.

Create new habits

Old habits are hard to break, and this is one of the reasons many New Years resolutions never have a chance. Take a look at what you have been doing in the past that kept you from achieving your goals. If your goal is to save more money, decide what your priorities are and cut back on expenses you can live without. If you want to be more organized, take a look at what’s creating the clutter (perhaps your hoarding tendencies, your laziness to clean up after yourself, or maybe your inability to figure out what goes where.) Address these bad habits immediately and decide how you will empower yourself to overcome them.

Surround yourself with positive reinforcement

Keeping resolutions and developing new habits will be hard to achieve if your environment is constantly sending you conflicting messages. Find a walking partner or someone to go to the gym with who will hold you accountable for keeping your fitness resolution. If your goal is to drink less, avoid associating with people or attending social events where temptations will be hard to ignore. Read inspirational books or surround yourself with people with similar goals, or who live your desired lifestyle. If your resolution is to take that trip to Europe, display your favorite scenic spot in Europe in a place where you’ll see it everyday (perhaps on your computer desktop?). That will keep you motivated to save your money and make the necessary plans to make that trip a reality.

Make your resolution public

Keeping your resolution to yourself only minimizes accountability to your goal. Tell your friends about your resolution, and if they’re your true friends, they’ll support you and hold you accountable. Sometimes, writing your resolutions down where you can refer back to it helps. Create a blog for your friends and family, or send updates via social media updating them on your resolution progress. They’ll cheer you on, and the desire not to disappoint them will motivate you to success.

Just do it

Many resolutions fail even before they’re started. For example, people will wait to start their fitness routine until they feel they’re motivated enough. Sometimes, that motivation never comes and the resolutions fade until next New Year’s Eve. Getting into a new habit and seeing the positive results coming from your new lifestyle will only further motivate you to continue keeping your resolution through the year and beyond.

Charles December 28, 2012 at 02:07 AM
This paragraph: "Create new habits" copied from http://www.successcoachinfo.com/allow-align-achieve-your-new-years-resolutions/ This paragraph: "Plan out steps to get to your goals" copied from http://issuu.com/hellomorristown/docs/mmmjan12 This paragraph "Surround yourself with positive reinforcement" copied from http://georgiaslate.com/cartersville/2012/01/04/poll-keeping-new-years-resolutions/
Hazel Lodevico-To'o (Editor) December 28, 2012 at 06:07 PM
Hello Charles, This story actually first appeared last year in December 2011. I believe the first link quotes this story and attributes it to me.
Roy Rivenburg December 28, 2012 at 06:18 PM
Hi, it's actually the other way around. The original version of Patch's story (see, e.g., http://pacificpalisades.going.com/articles/how-to-keep-your-new-year-s-resolutions-55682328), which ran in 2011, predates the links above.
Julia H January 02, 2013 at 03:39 AM
The last New Year's resolution I made was many years ago - it was to never make another New Year's resolution. Instead, if I feel I need to make a change in my life, it's worth starting today. If I slip up, I don't have to wait until the next December 31st to try again...every day is the perfect day to start being the person you want to be.

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