Almost everyone makes at least one new resolution at the beginning of the year, but how many people keep them for the first month or half of the year? Very few indeed! Making New Year resolutions is one of the oldest traditions, which is based on the notion of starting the New Year on a clean slate. The goals of these resolutions are to kick out bad habits, in order to make the coming year a better one. Among the top New Year’s resolutions are those related to losing weight, exercising more, quitting smoking, and getting out of credit card debt. Basically, New Year Resolutions are made around the key aspects of our lives, which include – Spiritual, Physical, Financial, Career/Academic, Social and Personal.
Statistics shows that 40 to 45% of American adults make one or more resolutions each year, however, very few make an effort to achieve them. A research study by the University of Scranton showed that only 8% of people achieve the goals they set for the New Year while another recent study on New Year Resolution revealed that Men achieved their goals 22% more often when small measurable goals were set, while women succeeded 10% more when they made their goals public and got support from their friends. Even though, the various results indicate a low success rate with New Year resolutions, it is still more beneficial to making them than choosing to ignore them. People who explicitly make resolutions are ten times more likely to attain their goals than those who choose not to make any resolution at all.
Goals are meant to be achieved, and so are New Year resolutions. Usually towards the end of the preceding year, most people start thinking about the changes to make in the coming year and more often than not, those changes are never documented and they just appear as flimsy desires that may never be achieved. In reality, the secret to making and keeping New Year resolutions is tackling their achievement as you would with any goals or objectives set in life.
As such, the same efforts and strategies implemented when setting other goals should be utilized with New Year Resolutions.
1. Place your dependence on God. There is virtually nothing we can achieve in life without the grace, mercy, help and favor of God. All our efforts need to be aligned with God’s will and desire for us, so that we can achieve success and greatness beyond our wildest imaginations. Whether we are conscious of the fact that we can do nothing except He strengthens us or not, the stack reality and truth is that without God, the achievement of our goals will be a heinous task. We need to always put our trust and hope in God, and as we write down our resolutions and set goals for the coming year, we should prayerfully put them into God’s hands and continually ask for strength and grace to achieve them.
2. Document your New Year resolutions. Once you have identified your specific goals, write them in a notebook that is easily accessible to you, so that seeing them everyday will give you an idea about how far you are in accomplishing them. There is power in writing down goals and objectives. There are several benefits of documenting goals in writing – the goal becomes concrete, they can be easily prioritized and tracked for success. There isn’t just any easy way of achieving your goals without documenting them. How can someone have their New Year resolutions undocumented in their brain and expect to remember them by the end of the year, or measure performance against the initially set objectives at regular intervals during the year. It may be possible, but definitely not easy.
3. Create an action plan. Really, there is a right and wrong way to making New Year resolutions. In order to make a difference in your approach to setting such goals in 2015, you need to make some changes, and the creation of a step-by-step or action plan for your strategic way of achieving these goals should be an inherent part of making them. Setting a goal without formulating a plan is merely wishful thinking, as success is most often achieved through proper planning. In order for your resolutions to have the qualities that will make them successful and achievable, they must translate into clear steps that can be put into action, such that a definition of all the steps required to complete your goals are outlined, and you can easily identify what to do next with the attainment of each goal. In order to achieve your New Year resolutions, you need to determine why you want that accomplishment, what the benefits are, how it will change you personally, and what the reasons for the goals are.
4. Identify specific goals. Everyone gets excited about setting New Year resolutions, but the goals would not keep themselves except you follow through the achievement of each one of them by utilizing one of the key principles of goals setting which is creating “specific” goals. For example, you should not just plan to save more money in the coming year, but you should identify the aggregate amount you plan to save for the year.
5. Create a vision and stay focused on it. Having a vision, a big picture of where you are heading, helps you to stay focused on the goals rather than how to get there or the every day happenings that may distract you from achieving your goals. Creating a vision gives a reason to your mission. Once you have a vision, visualize on a daily basis the joy and satisfaction you will experience with the achievement of your New Year resolutions, and you will be surprised how this simple act will give you a reason to be focused on its achievement. Another way to help you stay focused on your goals is to figure out ways to remind yourself about its achievement and also track your progress. A number of various web-based or mobile apps currently exist for achieving this purpose.
6. Employ Self Discipline. In order to be successful at keeping your New Year Resolutions in the coming year, you need to be highly disciplined. Self discipline will ensure that even when you do not feel like doing certain things, you still push yourself to the limit and ensure you achieve some percentage of the goal rather than none at all. There is virtually no easy goal because every goal requires some self-effort in order to achieve it.
7. Create a Commitment Contract. The objective of a commitment contract is similar to setting rewards, and it is a form of obligation to achieve a specific goal within a particular time-frame by creating a contract to meet the goal. With this, you are actually challenging yourself and saying, “if I can do my part, whatever rewards that have been defined in the agreement will be given to me.” The reward can be stated in a financial contract to give yourself a given incentive upon the achievement of your goals. The summary of a research reported in the magazine “The Economist,” revealed that field trials of this technique with smokers in the Philippines increased the likelihood of quitting by over 30% compared to other smokers who did not attempt to use this technique.
As we set our New Year Resolutions for the coming year, we should have in mind that this should not be a yearly repetitive habit, where we are making the same resolutions on things we want to change year-in year-out. However, these resolutions should eventually become life time resolutions, and in the end, we will not have to keep making the same resolutions every year, but we make a commitment to make these changes in our lives once and for all, so that we can keep improving upon ourselves, till we fulfill God’s purpose and destiny in our lives.
Photo Credit: Fotolia.com