A Guide to Making Successful New Year’s Resolutions

By Dr. Molly Casey

Woman Writting and Setting Goals

Can you believe it has already been 12 months since we last sang Auld Lang Syne? Many, maybe even you, greet the new year resolved to make changes in their lives. This fun article breaks down some American New Year’s resolution statistics. I find it interesting that it states 41 percent of Americans make resolutions at the beginning of the year and about 9 percent fulfill them. That’s not very inspiring. I am big on creating and following through with change you wish to see in your life now instead of waiting for a specific time of year. However, this is the time of year when it’s on everyone’s mind, so I’ll share a few steps to make you more likely to achieve what you set out to do!

Be Clear

Clarity is the first law of success, period. Work backwards here. Get clear and be specific on what your end goal is. If you want to become a runner, be clear on what that looks like for you. For one person it may be running 3 miles daily, five days a week. Another might consider themselves a runner after completing a half marathon. While still another might only consider themselves a runner after getting in a weekly 7-mile run on the weekend and two 4-mile runs during the week. How can you fulfill the resolution or meet the goal if you are not specific and clear?

Make Doable Steps

So now that you have a clear end goal in mind, create the steps to get to that goal. The two biggest issues here are lack of specificity in the layout as to each step, and biting off more than you can chew. If your goal is to run 3 miles per day five days a week, first determine by what date you’ll achieve this. Then break up the end goal broadly first, then narrow down and progress. Be sure to give yourself a bit of space or latitude. One of the easiest ways to do this is to pretend you are writing out this goal sheet for your better half; this will help decrease the “biting off more than you can chew” aspect. Below is a partial example of creating doable steps for a goal that builds upon the last and progresses forward toward the end goal. It’s not meant as an actual running program.

  • Step 1, week 1: Walk 30 minutes, 5 days per week
  • Step 2, week 2: Every other day switch to walking 1 minute, jogging 1 minute
  • Step 3, week 3: Every day walk 1 minute, run 1 minute
  • Step 4, week 4: Every other day, run 3 minutes, walk 2 minutes

Consistency

The road to hell is paved with good intention, right? Goals are fine and good. Laid out steps and specificity are even better. All of this means nothing if you aren’t consistent in taking action. Consistency is the key to results. Consistency is a heck of a lot easier when you take ownership over why achieving your goal matters and why you made the commitment in the first place.

Community

Having support and like-minded folks who will encourage you along your path to achieving your goal is a game-changer. It’s also necessity. Sure, there are people who achieve their life’s goals in solitary pursuit, yet they are few and far between. We all need support, and the best part is that the more support we have often correlates to achieving our goals more quickly because the energy and support of others carries us through and helps us surpass our own limitations.

If you are one who is going to set a New Year’s resolution, set yourself up to win. Be clear, make your steps doable, be consistent and find a community/network to support you on your journey. Wishing you all sorts of success, and here’s to the healthiest New Year yet!

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