Five, four, three, two, one. The ball drop at midnight tonight also marks the official start of resolution season. Unfortunately the stats on keeping New Year’s resolution aren’t very encouraging. Only about 19% of people who make them stick to them, which means about 60% of of resolutionistas have forgotten all about them by June. Sound familiar?
But worry not because the mere fact of setting a goal to begin with ups your chances of accomplishing change in your life. All you need is a good case of stick-to-it-tiveness and a concrete action plan. Here are a few strategies to help you stick to your goals this year.
Start by reflecting on the past year
The New Year is your chance to start on a fresh slate. “It’s really important to look back at the previous year and say, ‘You know what? What’s the biggest lesson I learned last year that I’m gonna take into the New Year?'” says Atlanta-based life coach and ESSENCE.com blogger Valorie Burton. “Whether you’ve gone through some challenging times this year or even some really good times, to be able to say what’s the lesson I’m carrying into the new year can be a powerful way to notice things that happen from year to year.”
Sure, the idea of losing 30 pounds so you can be beachy keen this coming summer is all well and good, but if a demanding job is keeping you from hitting the gym and eating healthy, chances are it’s not going to happen. “If you drink five sodas a day, perhaps your change is “You know what I’m going to start drinking at least four glasses of water a day,” says Burton.
Write it down
Research shows that people who write down their goals are more likely to succeed. This is because writing brings awareness and clarity to your life. It even has health benefits, says Burton. “[Writing] tends to create more positive emotion and optimism and those things tend to boost the immune system over time.”
In the same vein of keeping it small, be specific about your goals. Saying “I want to make more money” or “I want to lose weight” may not be enough to reach your goals. “Write down a specific number; tape it to your keyboard or put it in front of your desk,” says Burton. That way you’ll always be thinking about it.
Announce your resolutions to friends
Nothing keeps you in check better than other people holding you accountable. Tell your girlfriends about your resolutions and encourage them to check in with you. “When you tell other people what your goal is you are far more likely to actually achieve it,” says Burton.
Make resolutions that are fun to keep
We’re calling your bluff early if you’re telling yourself come January 1st you’ll be waking up at 5am to go the gym. Making resolutions that are not enjoyable to you make it difficult to stay enthusiastic about the task at hand. If it’s the gym you’re trying to get to rather spend a few days testing out which time slot is most suitable for you.
Be prepared for an occasional slip up
It’s inevitable that you’re going to cheat once in a while, but being too hard on yourself can be your downfall. A study published in the Journal of Clinical Psychology found that the people most likely to accomplish their resolutions are those who dust off their slip-ups.
We’re not talking chocolate martini just yet, but do give yourself an occasional pat on the back for your efforts.
If at first you don’t succeed…try again. A busy schedule at work may make it hard to start a lifestyle revamp this month but there’s always next month and the next. Look at each day as chance to start afresh.
Always remember your intention and have a vision
Your goals are about your vision so it really is important to know where it is you’re going, says Burton. “Don’t step into the New Year thinking ‘Oh I wonder what’s gonna happen this year. Set an intention for what you want this year as opposed to looking at what you don’t want. Focus on the abundance more than you focus on the lack.”
Read more tips from life coach Valorie Burton on her ESSENCE.com blog.