Every year on New Year’s Day, countless people around the world wake up and vow to make a change that year. They write down their resolution and commit to getting healthy, saving money or another lofty goal. The only problem? The majority of those people lose sight of their goal before January is over.
If you want to make a New Year’s resolution that will last in 2017, follow these five steps:
1. Create a SMART goal
A New Year’s resolution is actually just a fancy phrase for a holiday-themed goal. But because there’s all this pressure to create a big 2017 resolution, most people set huge goals with no plans for how they are going to achieve them.
This year, set a SMART goal. What’s a SMART goal? A SMART goal is specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and time-bound. Let’s say we want to take the resolution “lose weight” and turn it into a SMART goal.
So now our resolution is, “I want to lose 20lbs of fat by December 2017.” This goal is specific (20 lbs), measurable (number of pounds), attainable (not an unrealistic amount of weight), relevant (related to an overall healthier life) and time-bound (deadline of Dec 2017). Already that goal sounds way smarter and more achievable than just “lose weight.”
2. Recruit an accountabili-buddy
What’s an accountabili-buddy? An accountabili-buddy is a friend who will keep you accountable to your goal. Just like going to the gym is easier with a workout buddy, achieving a goal is a lot easier with an accountabili-buddy.
This is the person you turn to when you’re feeling discouraged and who will check in on you and make sure you’re sticking to your plan. Let’s say your resolution is to pack healthy lunches for work three days a week. Your accountabili-buddy might text you over the weekend to remind you to do your grocery shopping.
You can send them photos of your healthy lunches at your desk or even attend a healthy cooking class together. Resolutions are much more fun when you achieve them with friends!
3. Track your progress
The hardest part about New Year’s resolutions is setting them in January and then not looking back on them until December. It’s hard to stay motivated about a goal that is 12 months in the making.
So be sure to check your progress and celebrate the small wins. If your resolution is to read 20 new books in 2017, celebrate every time you finish a book. Display it proudly on your bookshelf and share the news with your accountabili-buddy. It’s a lot easier to get to 20 read books if you can see your progress on the way there.
4. Make a meaningful resolution
The problem with resolutions is that we usually don’t think about making them until January 1st. Because we don’t think about them until the last minute, we end up picking something generic or going in on a resolution that a friend has made.
But it’s important that your resolution is meaningful to you. Why would you want to work all year to accomplish something you don’t really care about?
So before January 1st, take the time to think about what you really want to achieve in 2017. Look back on 2016 – what was missing from your life? What’s important moving forward? What do you want to work on and improve?
5. Have a backup plan
Unfortunately, even with all of the steps above, you may fall off of the wagon. It’s hard to be 100% committed to our resolutions all of the time – even if they’re SMART, you have an accountabili-buddy, you’re tracking your progress and the resolution is meaningful.
If you’ve resolved to start brewing your own coffee but wake up late a few times and end up in line at Starbucks, it’s not the end of the world. You need to make sure that your resolution is not all or nothing. Have a backup plan for when you inevitably fall behind on your goal.
If you’re able to get back on track with some pre-set strategies and forgive your own missteps, you’ll be en route to your resolution in no time.
Happy New Year and all the best for setting a lasting new year’s resolution in 2017!