How to Set & Keep Your New Year’s Resolutions

Happy 2018! Now that it’s the new year, your newsfeeds have probably been flooded with “New year, new me” posts for a few days now. It’s not exactly nice, but it’s understandable why we side-eye the heck out of people who have been using this caption for the past ten years: Unfortunately, while millions of Americans make resolutions, research says only about 8% manage to keep them.

That statistic is rather depressing — but you don’t have to be a dismal statistic. Here’s how to make (and keep!) your resolutions so you can make 2018 your best year yet.

Get specific and clearly define what it is you want to do.

The most popular resolutions involve self-improvement, money, and weight loss. Luckily, those are all things that are easy to quantify.

Resolutions like “Save money,” “Lose weight,” “Get in shape,” and “Be a better a person,” are pretty much guaranteed to fail. They’re extremely vague, and there’s no way to measure or track your progress. You have to clearly define what it is you want to do; otherwise, how will you know how to get there and when you’ve made good on your resolution? If we can’t measure our progress, it’s only natural to lose motivation after a while.

Set clear goals that are measurable. What does it mean to you to save money, lose weight, get in shape, or be a better person?

Here are some common resolutions, rewritten clearly and specifically for success:

Get in shape. = Be able to run a mile in 10 minutes/Do half an hour of yoga each day/Run at least 5 miles a week/Take 10,000 steps per day.

Lose weight. = Lose 20 pounds/Lose X amount of inches from your body.

Get healthy. = Drink 8 glasses of water a day/Eat X amount of fruits and vegetables per day/Exercise X amounts of time per week/Meditate for X minutes per day/Lower cholesterol, blood sugar, whatever, by X points/Get X hours of sleep per night.

Save money. = Save X amount of dollars in savings/Pay off X amount of debt/Invest X amount of money in Bitcoin, Forex, Acorn, or whatever other kind of investments you want to make/Contribute X amount of dollars to your retirement account. (Bonus: If you want some creative ways to create extra cash flow, check out our post on ways to make some extra moolah here.)

Be real with yourself.

Let’s be honest. If you’re currently pulling in $25k a year, setting a goal to save $10,000 in a year is probably unrealistic. If you need to lose 100 pounds, a year may not be enough time for you to do so in a healthy way. Don’t set yourself up for failure — set small, attainable, achievable goals.

Once you see yourself progressing and achieving, it will create momentum and keep you motivated. You can always set new goals and a higher bar for yourself once you accomplish what you’ve initially set out to do.

Start small to win big.

Break it down.

In order to reach our goals, we’ve got to take some kind of action. Once you know where you want to go, it’s much easier to figure out how to get there.

How will you save $5,000, lose 20 pounds, run a mile in 10 minutes, or develop good habits to make yourself a better person?

Will you set aside 10% of every paycheck? Will you start a home-based business to generate some extra money? Will you change your eating habits and swap out chips for veggies and hummus? Will you replace a meal with a protein shake or smoothie? Will you exercise a certain amount of time per week? Will you read self-help books and implement one new suggestion a month?

To develop sustainable habits, you need to think logically and practically.

Don’t overwhelm yourself and try to do it all at once. Work on implementing one small change at a time; once you’ve mastered that, slowly add in others. This will keep you from getting burnt out, overwhelmed, and feeling like a failure.

For example, maybe you want to lose 20 pounds, and you’ve decided to accomplish that by a) exercising five times a week, b) drinking more water, and c) eating healthier, but you haven’t seen the inside of a gym since March 2017, and you regularly chomp down on chips and soda in the office. Start by getting yourself to the gym once or twice a week, then swapping out your chips for nuts, veggies and hummus, or fruits. Once you’ve got that down, you can start working in your protein shakes, increasing your gym days, and making more dietary changes, like swapping soda for fruit-infused sparkling water.

Track your progress.

It’s easy to lose motivation when you can’t measure your goals, because if you can’t measure your goals, you don’t see any progress, which is why most people end up losing steam and failing. Since you’ve clearly defined your goals, now you can measure them!

As any psychology pro knows, if you can measure it, you can change it.

This will also allow you to identify any plateaus or backslides, so you can evaluate what the contributing factors and barriers were. That way you can effectively problem solve and re-adjust your efforts as and where needed.

One of our favorite methods is creating a habit tracker in a journal.

Put it on your calendar.

Stuff that gets scheduled gets done. When you hear people say they “don’t have time,” it really means “That’s not a priority for me right now.” If you want to change, you have to make it a priority. Change doesn’t happen by accident. It happens with deliberate decisions.

Set a schedule for yourself to declutter, review your budget weekly, meal plan and prep, exercise, read self-improvement books, or do whatever it is you need to do to hit your goals.

Show up for yourself the same way you show up to appointments with your boss, doctor, or friends.

Build your tribe.

It’s much easier to make change when you have a stellar support system. Tell your friends and family about your goals — they can help keep you on track. A supportive friend that knows you’re trying to lose weight or save money isn’t going to invite you out to binge on pizza and or waste your money drinking at the bar multiple times a week.

You can even join a Facebook group for likeminded individuals, where you can exchange ideas, get support and pep talks when you’re feeling stuck, and celebrate your successes.

Focus on progress, not perfection.

All or nothing thinking is a trap. It’s easy to say “Whoops, I ate chips today; the day is ruined, I’ll eat whatever I want for the rest of the day because I already screwed up. I’ll start again tomorrow.”

No! If you think like that, you’ll be stuck in a never-ending cycle of tomorrows. If you fall off the wagon, don’t beat yourself up — be gentle with yourself, and get back on as soon as possible. Setbacks aren’t a barrier to success; they’re a part of success.

You don’t have to wait for “tomorrow” to start making better decisions that will get you where you want to go — every moment is a chance to change. You don’t need to be perfect, because you can’t and you won’t be perfect. Aim for being “pretty good” most of the time, and you’ll get where you want to go all of the time.

Treat yo self.

Instead of punishing yourself for straying off track, reward yourself for staying on track and accomplishing things, no matter how small.

Try not to use a reward system that will sabotage your goals — too often people will reward themselves for exercising or losing weight by eating junk food, or reward themselves for saving by splurging. Instead, if you lost a few pounds, reward yourself with a new outfit. If you’ve kept your gym schedule, treat yourself to a new pair of gym shoes or a class pass for something new you want to try, like belly dancing or salsa lessons. If you’ve managed to save 10% of your income for a month, treat yourself by contributing an extra $20 to your savings, vacation fund, or investment account.

Sharing is Caring!

We’re ready to make shift happen — are you? We know you can live your best life in 2018 and beyond, and we’ve got your back.

Drop a comment below and let us know which one of these tips you found to be the most helpful, and what your resolutions are!

As always, we love hearing from you — drop us some suggestions of your own, let us know how you liked ours, or just wish us a happy new year here.

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