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How to Make and Keep Your New Year's Resolutions

How to Make and Keep Your New Year's Resolutions

You've probably been making New Year's resolutions since you were young. And you've probably not been keeping those New Year's resolutions since you were young. It's okay. Many New Year's resolutions barely make it past January 2.

But just because it's hard to keep them, doesn't mean you shouldn't make them. Some argue that there isn't a point to making something you can't keep because you'll just disappoint yourself, but we disagree. Even if you don't keep your resolutions for very long, making them can have many benefits.

Benefits of making resolutions

  • Personal reflection: Making resolutions provides an opportunity to reflect on the past year and look at things you did well and maybe need a little work on. Even if you don't keep your resolutions, reflection is extremely important for personal growth and development. 
  • Goal-setting practice: It doesn't need to be December 31 for you to make goals. You can make goals every day, big and small. It's important to set goals in all aspects of life (work, home, health, finance, family, etc.), and New Year's is a great excuse to practice. Even if you don't follow through, you're still going creating goals and learning the steps.
  • Empowerment and positivity: Making resolutions can be empowering even if you don't keep them for very long. Just the act of believing in yourself when making goals to improve can increase your positivity and the power you feel.
  • Control: In a time when we've all probably felt like we've lacked control, making resolutions can help restore that sense of control. By making a resolution, you are telling yourself and others that you are in control of your actions and success. 

Now that we've talked about some of the benefits, let's get to the nitty-gritty and talk about how best to make your resolutions. 

How to make a New Year's resolution: SMART goals

You've all learned about SMART goals in middle school and high school. I remember rolling my eyes at the lesson, coming up with my own goals, and filling out all the steps. Now I realize SMART goals are the type of goals that you actually accomplish. 

Each letter of SMART represents a step in the goal-making process. We'll briefly outline them here.

Specific: Keep it simple and clear.  
Measurable: Be able to track your progress and know where you are going. 
Achievable: Don't make a goal that's impossible to achieve.
Realistic: Make sure the goal is relevant and focus on the results you want. 
Timely: Clearly define the timeline for your goal. Stay urgent with achieving your goals and choose both a start and target finish date.

Tips for keeping your resolutions

You've reflected on your year and have made a few (or maybe just one) resolution following the SMART format. You've done the easy part. The hard part is putting your resolution and plan in to motion and sticking with it.

We have some tips to follow to make sure you can feel motivated and empowered by your resolutions instead of overwhelmed and disappointed. 

1. Talk about it. Involve others in your resolutions. Talking through your goals and resolutions can help you in the creation process and can also help others keep you accountable. Even just knowing those around you are aware of your resolutions can help motivate you to keep going. 

2. Write it down. Similar to talking, writing can powerful. Having a goal or resolution written down can help solidify it. It can also help keep you motivated. 

3. Don't beat yourself up. If you break your resolution after one week, don't beat yourself up. And don't give up. There aren't any New Year's resolution police that are going to break your down down the second you fail. You can always start again. You've got a whole year and the years after that to keep trying. 

4. Track your resolution. When you create your resolutions make sure they are measurable (remember SMART). When you do this, you're making it easier to track. Tracking your resolutions can help you see progress and feel empowered and motivated. It can also be fun. Get creative with your tracking. Use bullet journals or a big white board;  whatever you find that makes it fun, do it. 

5. Reward yourself. Motivation doesn't have to be verbal or written. Give yourself incentives. If you reach X, you can buy those shoes you've been wanting. Or if you reach Y, you get to take a weekend trip. Define what you think are deserving and good rewards and when you reach those points, enjoy the reward, and keep going. 

6. Be so specific. It's easy to make really vague and broad resolutions like "eat better" or "increase exercise" or "spend less." But it's also easy to give up on those when they aren't clearly defined. Be more specific, try to make your resolution "eat at least one vegetable a day" or "work out for 30 minutes, three days a week." It will help you stick to them when you don't have to think hard about what your resolution entails. 

7. Keep the "why" in mind. Before making your resolution, you hopefully thought about the big picture and why you were making this resolution. It might be hard to see or remember the finish line, but if you have clearly defined what it is, keeping it in mind will be easier and will help you achieve your resolutions or find the success you want. 

8. Don't compare. Everyone is different, and everyone's goals and resolutions will be different. Not comparing yourself to others is good advice in so many aspects of life. Remember, your resolutions are personal. They are for you, not for anyone else. 

Whether you make resolutions or not this year, we hope you still pause to reflect on the previous year and look forward with hope and optimism and keep in mind where you hope to end up. 

If you feel like sharing, let us know one of your New Year's goals in the comments below. 

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