Almost 90% of Americans will make at least one New Year’s resolution.
Less than 20% will succeed in accomplishing even one.
The beginning of the year is a great time for life improving resolutions. Common resolutions include losing weight, giving up smoking, maintaining a budget, saving money, finding a better job, getting healthier, becoming more organized, and spending more time with family.
Whatever your resolutions, here are some specific strategies to help you succeed. First and foremost is to take the first step, which is to start. Without action, there will be no success. Action creates results. Intention alone will not work.
Have written goals stating what you want to accomplish. If you want to lose weight, how much and by when? If you want to live within a budget, what is the amount? If you want to continue your education, what school will you go to and which classes will you take?
Take small but consistent steps. Habits are formed by frequent repetition over time. Change occurs by the same process. A resolution is not all or nothing. Partial change is okay. Any progress in the desired direction, regardless of how small, is a success. Accomplishing a resolution is a process, not a one-time effort.
Positive goals are more effective than negative ones. Rather than saying you will eat less, resolve to have a healthier diet. Instead of spending less time at work you can endeavor to spend more time at home. Bad habits can’t just be eliminated; they have to be replaced by good ones.
Identify potential obstacles so they don’t surprise you. If you experience a setback, don’t give up. Don’t blame yourself if you stumble. Failure only occurs when you stop trying. Difficulties are an opportunity to learn. If you slide backwards, get back on track, get back in gear, and resume your progress.
Don’t keep your plans a secret. Develop a support system utilizing friends and family. Visualize how great you will feel as you succeed. Take credit for all accomplishments. It doesn’t matter if your progress is slower than you would like.
Don’t try to change too many things at once or you risk becoming overwhelmed and discouraged. You can have a long list of resolutions so long as you realize all of the items don’t have to be addressed simultaneously. Each accomplishment can be followed by another. Change can begin at any time, not just on January 1.
Believe in yourself and your ability to change. Change can feel difficult, uncomfortable, or painful, but you can do it. Become determined to succeed. Don’t procrastinate. Although doing nothing is often an appealing alternative, it leads to frustration.
Each day is a new opportunity to work on your resolutions. If you were successful yesterday, fantastic, keep going. If yesterday was a disappointment, today is a new chance to make progress. Replace the word “try” with “will.” Do whatever it takes to get the results you want.
Bryan is the author of “Dare to Live Without Limits,” a self-development expert, syndicated columnist, and professor.