From shedding weight to paying off debt, New Year’s resolutions are among the world’s most time-honored traditions. Just as traditional is the habit of breaking of them.
Countless studies have been done on resolutions, and the bottom line is that while most people make them, very few keep them for more than few months, if not weeks.
“At the core of most resolutions is a desired change of thought or practice that will lead to positive outcome in one’s life,” said Tonya Hansel, director of the doctorate program at the Tulane University School of Social Work.
“However, for many, when we think of New Year’s resolutions, failure comes to mind. Changing one’s behavior is never easy and the key to success is small steps.”
She said her best advice is to select one resolution for the New Year and use the following tips to achieve it in 2020.
Make sure your resolution is SMART—Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Timely. For example, don’t resolve to exercise. That’s too vague. Rather, resolve to run two miles per day or attend one yoga class per week.
Use technology, such as websites, apps and online programs, to help you meet your goals. If you want to learn a new language, for example, there are many web-based learning apps and programs that can help you meet your goal; some are even free.
Lean on supportive networks to hold you accountable, be it a friend, an online group or a professional counselor. Choose someone that will provide constructive feedback and the needed mental energy to help you achieve your goals.
Accept yourself. Understand that no one is perfect, and neither is there a perfect resolution. If you fail, learn from that experience. If you accept that habits cannot change overnight, it will be much easier to get back on track if you do hit roadblocks.
Celebrate small successes throughout the year. If your resolution is to save $1,000 for travel, but halfway through the year your savings is spent on unexpected car repairs, you have still met your goal. Allow time to revise outcomes as the year progresses and celebrate those successes when they come along.