Don’t make resolutions make goals.

Year after year you started out with the best intent to find that within a month you have given up on your New Year’s resolution. After that, you tend to be harsh on yourself after tracking your progress. The end result being you figure that you probably wouldn’t be able to complete this mountainous task that was your resolution.

Year after year, I kept getting caught in this cycle of an annual resolution guilt. But then, last year I was just decided I am not going to keep doing this anymore. Let me try experimenting with a strategy that might actually work. So, I found some interesting data on New Year Resolutions from Marist College (the survey was conducted on a sample of 1,140 adults across America).

“Among adults nationally who said they made a resolution for 2014, 59% kept their resolution for, at least, part of the year. 41% did not. This is a change from the previous year (Trend). Among those who made a resolution for 2013, 72% kept their word.”

Though this information is self reported so the accuracy of the data is a bit questionable (as humans, we don’t tend to be totally honest about these things) but the numbers make a strong point. The odds are stacked against us. But how do we stick to keeping our resolutions?

I found that being optimistic, setting realistic targets, and measuring your progress can really help you. So how can you realistically apply these ‘generic’ suggestions?

  1. Be optimistic and don’t give up! From a behavior to an emotion to a belief, creating lasting change is about getting into a mindset that enables you to achieve your goals. Though giving up is the easy way, but keeping a positive and optimistic mindset is the real challenge. This doesn’t mean you go on doing something you know is not going happen, but going ahead to find a solution or answer to figure out how you are going to make your resolution happen.
  2. Don’t go to the “I want to make a lot more money” route. You know that’s unrealistic and vague. Think about setting your resolution in a way that you can answer WWH (What, When and How) you can make your resolution a reality. This idea goes beyond just resolution setting but into the spectrum of goal setting. If you set your resolution like “ I am going to make a ton of money this year!” or “ I am going to lose weight” you probably are not going to succeed in realizing your goal (if you do, then you are an exception). Don’t set vague or highly unrealistic goals. It’s impossible to know when you’ve reached these goals, so you end up ignoring them altogether. Instead, be specific “I want to lose 5 pounds a month until I reach my ideal weight and BMI index of [insert ideal weight here]”.
  3. Measure your progress. Even though you may be succeeding in keeping your New Year’s Resolution but you’ve got to measure it on the way. Set some markers or checkpoints, while checking-in with yourself and track your progress (most preferably daily or weekly) to help you keep you on the path to achieving your goal at the end of the year.

Now for the people how don’t set a New Year’s resolution?

So why do you hesitate setting a resolution?

It’s because committing to change in life is stressful. And that stress is scary.

So you hesitate and keep pushing it off. You tell yourself, “I’ll start improving myself next week when I’m not feeling lazy.” or “I’ll have a resolution once I have the time to really commit myself.”

But deep-down you know that is not true. The stress is scary and you know you don’t want to take an action to change. If you let your anxiety make these decisions for you. You will not be able to commit to a change. Why?Because the less-scary option is almost always the wrong choice.

Don’t let stress decide how you get to live.