Research suggests that approximately half of all Americans make New Year's resolutions yet only 8 percent actually achieve them. Whether you make a resolution to improve your love life, family life, work life, or wardrobe, we have all the tricks you need to be successful this year. Follow these simple tips to get ready to take your resolutions seriously this year.
1. Start believing in yourself now.
Most people start their year with a resolution that they'd hypothetically like to achieve but ultimately don't believe they will. Kick those thoughts to the curb! If you don't think that you can achieve your goals, you won't. So start getting prepared for success. The more you prepare the better you will feel about your chances.
2. Start exercising your willpower now.
We like to believe that willpower is either something you have or you don't, but it's closer to a muscle. The more you exercise your willpower, the stronger it becomes. So start working on it now—before the New Year comes around—then you'll be ready to start toward your ultimate resolution come January 1st.
3. Focus on one resolution at a time.
Changing habits—particularly unhealthy habits—takes time and energy. Lighten your load a little bit by focusing on one important resolution.
4. Define your resolution clearly.
We all want to "get thinner" or "save money," but vague resolutions like that won't help anyone. Set a clear, measurable, and achievable goal for yourself, like, "Lose 30 pounds," or, "Save enough for a vacation to Europe." Avoid all or nothing resolutions like, "Quit eating sugar." They don't allow for the slip-ups or special splurges that happen to everyone once in a while.
5. Plan out smaller goals along the way.
Any big goal can look intimidating at first, which is why experts recommend breaking end goals down into more achievable short-term goals for maximizing chances at success. For example, dropping two dress sizes may seem fairly insurmountable, but taking the stairs four times a day is entirely doable.
6. Write your goals on your calendar.
Plan ahead! After dividing your big, long-term goal into more reasonable short-term goals, write them out in a calendar or program them into your phone's reminders. The extra scheduling will make it easier to stay committed longer. It's hard to abandon your New Year's resolutions when you keep getting reminders about them.
7. Publicize your goals to friends and family.
Have a goal? Tell your friends and family. You don't have to ask them to hold you accountable—although, that would help. The simple act of telling someone about your plan is often enough to keep you on track. It'll feel like someone is holding you accountable, even if they actively don't check in on your progress.
8. Be patient.
Change is not going to happen over night. Give yourself some time to adjust to your new habit. Start slowly, very slowly if you have to. Remember that even the smallest step forward is a step in the right direction. You might slip up, but don't quit after one or two missteps. You can do this!
9. When a craving hits, stay entertained.
Trying to quit drinking but keep bending to cravings? Learn how to distract yourself. Try doing a sudoku or picking up knitting. Find a form of entertainment that keeps your brain busy until the craving passes over. Bonus: Keeping your brain busy and entertained helps reinforce your long-term willpower.
10. Stay away from temptation if you're tired or stressed.
Your willpower is weakest when you're feeling run down. If you've had a long day, maybe avoid driving past your favorite donut place on the way home from work. You can take that short cut when you're feeling rejuvenated.
11. Do something nice for others.
It's easy to beat yourself up after a resolution slip-up, but that only makes it more likely for you to slip again. If you're feeling low, try doing something for someone else. Volunteer for a few hours, pick up an extra shift that you normally wouldn't. You'll feel like you're taking more control over your life, and make your brain more effective against temptation.
12. Keep track of progress!
Write it down. Write it down. Write it down. Keeping a journal of your progress is another way to hold yourself accountable and pat yourself on the back when you achieve your goals.
13. If you don't feel ready, wait!
Maybe spring is a better time for you to start a resolution. Obviously January seems to be a natural beginning for change, but it is also a very stressful and busy time of year. If you're worried about having time to dedicate to your new self, try holding off for a less chaotic time.