New Years Resolutions – Making and Keeping Them!

Only 8% of people who make New Year’s Resolutions each year keep them, a Forbes magazine article from January 1, 2013 reports.

So, what are the secrets of that elite group of 8%? The article suggests that those people who actually keep their resolutions have a few things in common: Keep it simple, make it tangible, make it obvious, believe that you can actually accomplish it.

Let’s start with the first – Keep it simple. This means that if you are currently walking to your mailbox each day, you shouldn’t attempt to run a marathon right away. Smaller, more realistic and reachable goals help to build our confidence for the larger ones yet ahead.

Maybe you haven’t run in years. Working up to being able to run a mile without stopping may be a good first goal. Or choosing a “Couch to 5K” training program.

Moving on to the second – Keep it tangible. This basically means you must be specific if you are going to be able to achieve a goal. To simply say that you want to eat healthier but not come up with a plan is to set yourself up for failure. Why not take some time to look up a few weeks worth of healthy menus and then go grocery shopping with that list in hand.

For me, as a writer, saying I want to “write more frequently” can easily fall under my radar. Making a plan to write during my children’s nap time every Wednesday afternoon sets a time and a place for my goal to be achieved.

On to the third – Make it Obvious. Share your goal or goals with another person or people who can keep you accountable. It can be especially helpful if someone else you know is trying to achieve the same goal. Making a plan each week to ask each other how you are doing can keep you encouraged and motivated to continue.

Lastly, the article encourages us to set goals that we can actually accomplish. Your own willpower (or lack thereof) makes a significant impact on whether or not you actually achieve your goal.

The writer, Dan Diamond, cites that in a study led by a Stanford University psychologist, researchers found that the test subjects did better or worse depending on whether or not they thought they would. Essentially, their willpower to do well.

Diamond says, “You have as much willpower as you think you have, essentially. Which means that on some level, your journey towards self-improvement will be a self-fulfilling prophecy.”

One of my goals for 2014 that I alluded to, is to write more regularly on both this blog and my own blog. I also would like to read books that challenge me and take me to another level as a reader. Reading the book, “How to Read a Book,” really challenged me to not put difficult books down but to read some books that are above my reading level.

It’s easy to challenge my five year old daughter to move to the next level with her reading, but deciding to chew on the works of Tolstoy or Dostoevsky myself is a bit harder.

I suppose I will start by selecting a book off the list that I haven’t read and am very interested in reading. Then slowly move on to harder ones. Oh, and finding someone to hold me accountable.

What are your goals for the new year? How can you set simple, tangible, obvious goals that you believe you can achieve? I would love to hear what gets you motivated and keeps you going.

For many of us, a new year marks a fresh start. And indeed it can be. As G.K. Chesterton writes, “the object of a new year is not that we should have a new year, but rather that we should have a new soul.”