1. Make the right kind of resolutions. You have to make sure your goals are valid meetable goals. Try to follow the 5 categories of attainable goals: Your goals should…
a. Be Specific – Don’t just say “I will be happy,” or “I will be a better person.” Such broad and generic goals will never be met because you have no definite target at which to aim. Instead think about what kinds of things will truly make you happy. What changes in your life do you need to make to be “happy.” Or in what specific ways could you be a better person? What actions would the person you want to be do? What would they not do? Once you have your specific goals in mind, go on to the next step.
b. Be Measureable – If one of your goals is that you will stop being so negative, how will you ever know if you’ve met that goal? If you make one negative remark, does that mean you failed? What about if your goal is to lose weight. Have you succeeded if you lose 1 pound in two months? If you really want to take your resolutions seriously, you need to be able to know if you’ve kept them or not. So, you need to write up your goals in such a way that at the end of each day, you can say either “yes, I met that goal today,” or “no, I didn’t. I’ll have to try again tomorrow.”
c. Be Realistic – Don’t set resolutions that you know you can never keep. For example, don’t resolve to lose 10 pounds every week. I don’t know of any diet that can accomplish that, and if you find one, I can almost guarantee that it will be very bad for you, and it won’t last. Instead, think of the big picture and break it down into manageable chunks.
d. Be Challenging – On the opposite side of this, don’t make resolutions that require absolutely no effort to accomplish. For example, don’t resolve to wake up 1 minute earlier every day. Yes, it’s good to break goals into manageable chunks, but you’ll never get anywhere if you make the chunks too small.
e. Have a Completion Date – This one is important. You need a date that you can reach and ask yourself “Did I meet my goal?” Make this date specific. For example, by December 31, 2013, I’ll have… But don’t use the end of the year as your only completion date. As we talked about before, break the year into manageable chunks. You should have a final goal for the end of the year. A smaller goal for each month, a smaller one yet for each week and a little goal for each day. That way, you continue working on your goals day by day. Otherwise, if you’re like me, you may forget about them.
2. Make a schedule. It’s best to do this in writing. Plan out your day and write in time for your resolution each day. Plan when you will exercise, or look for new recipes, or talk to someone whom you’ve always had difficulty staying positive around. (It’s good to practice.) It’s also good to have a back-up time planned in case something comes up. And if your goal is to stop doing something, think about the time that you usually do it, and schedule in something different at that time every day.
3. Find a partner. It’s always easier to do something if you have someone else doing it with you. Find someone with the same resolution and work together. If you have a weak moment, call them for encouragement. Help each other to succeed.
4. Beat Temptation. Think of the most common excuses you’ve used in the past that have caused you to break your resolution. Find ways to overcome these when they come up again because they will. Also, you need to recognize temptation when you meet it. Many times we feel that craving and just give in to it without thinking. You need to pause, step back for a moment and recognize temptation for what it is. Name it. And then consider the battle you’re in. Only then can you make a conscious decision to lose the battle and give in to temptation or to fight and win.
5. Study your resolution. Research your specific goal and find out how others have reached it. Just make sure you don’t fall for the instant-result gimmicks that are always out there. If your resolution was so easy to keep, everyone would have already done it by now. Be smart and be prepared to work.
6. Find motivational pictures that will help you. If your goal is to lose weight, find a picture of someone who is the weight you want to be. It might also help to find a picture of someone who is larger than you are currently. That way, you could see what you could become if you give up. If your goal is to stop smoking, put up pictures of items that you could buy with all of the money you spend on cigarettes. Put these pictures in places where you are most likely to see them when you are tempted to give up.
7. Don’t forget. One of the biggest reasons that I break my New Year’s resolutions is simply that I forget about them. Life gets in the way, and I put them off for a day, then another, until I don’t even think about them anymore. Put reminders up everywhere, and continually look at them.
8. Keep them new. Find ways to change up your routine so that you don’t get bored with it. Also, be realistic about how you’re doing as the days progress. If you just can’t seem to make yourself exercise for an hour every day, then change it up to two exercise periods of 30 minutes each or 4 times for 15 minutes each. If you still have a hard time not gossiping about your boss to your colleagues or friends, try to start a PRIVATE journal where you can still say everything you want to say on paper. See if that makes it easier to keep your mouth closed. The important thing is that you don’t give up if something doesn’t work. Stay determined! Keep changing your routine until you find something that works. Also, change the location of your reminders. Change your motivational pictures, etc. Don’t get so used to things that they don’t have any impact anymore.
9. Make yourself accountable. Now, this only works if your accountable to someone you would actually care to tell that you failed. If your accountability partner is someone that you are very close to, you might not care if they know you broke your resolution. After all, they probably already know that you messed up many times in your life. We all have. Instead, make yourself accountable to someone, or to many someones, to whom you would not want to admit that you failed. (Maybe blog about your progress or share it with your Facebook friends.)
10. BE SERIOUS! You have to really want it! If you don’t, then nothing you can do will make you keep your resolutions. It all comes down to one thing. Which do you want more, to keep your resolution or to eat that piece of chocolate, or say that mean thing, or plop down on the couch, or smoke that cigarette, etc. You have to be at a point where you really want to change.
If you follow these guidelines, I mean really seriously follow them, then you can conquer temptation and fulfill your resolutions! You can do it! Don’t give up! Good luck. :)