With February just beginning the thought of sticking with your New Year’s resolutions might sound as appealing as scraping wallpaper off of drywall. It’s understandable why: The vast majority of people make and break their resolutions within a few weeks’ time. They fall back into their old ways, and they convince themselves their resolutions were too hard to keep anyway.
You don’t need to be part of the vast majority. In fact, 2012 can be the year that you separate yourself from the masses and keep every resolution you make.
Here are five ways to help you stay on track:
1. Set realistic objectives.
You probably can’t change jobs, launch a nonprofit organization, revamp your kids’ parent-teacher organization and start a community garden all in one year. You can always keep certain goals on the back burner, but chunk down your goals into just a few that you can realistically meet within a year’s time.
For longer-term goals, such as how to plan for retirement, choose a few to-do items that get you closer to your goals. For example, you can commit to putting more money in your 401(k) and creating a retirement planning guide with your financial planner. Establish time frames that are believable to you, and monitor your progress regularly.
2. Get an accountability partner.
Find someone who has similar goals with whom you can check in frequently. If you want to run a marathon, find a running partner and schedule regular runs. You’ll be more likely to show up for a run if you know someone is waiting for you. Keep track of your progress together, and share the results of your training.
3. Establish a reward system.
Even small rewards will help to keep you motivated. The reward should be tied directly to the goal. So, if you make an extra few hundred bucks in your business, rather than going on a spending spree or blowing every extra dollar on a latte, put some of that money in a savings account that will let you save up for a larger purchase. Post a picture of the item on your refrigerator. You’ll stay motivated to obtain that reward and will work that much harder to get it.
4. Revisit goals as needed.
Your goals may shift with the economy, life changes such as a new home or a new baby, a big move or other key events. Revisit your goals every few months to be sure they still encompass everything you hope to get out of life. Make any necessary tweaks to ensure you achieve the desired outcome.
5. See yourself succeeding.
Use your imagination to visualize yourself with your goals realized. Get a journal and log your thoughts and feelings about your accomplishment. Post photos of images that symbolize your success. Mentally associate with people who have what you want — not the naysayers who doubt your potential.
Bit by bit, you can meet all the goals you set forth in 2012. As long as you commit to specific action steps, you’ll not only keep your New Year’s resolutions, but also finish the year better off than when you started it.
Felicia Gopaul helps consumers understand how to plan for retirement, save for college and plan for the future. With insightful articles and advice featured at FeliciaGopaul.com and College Funding Resource, she offers easy-to-understand tips for consumers seeking better, smarter ways to manage their finances. As part of her New Year’s resolutions, Felicia will be sticking to a new fitness plan, reading motivational books and spending plenty of quality time with her daughters.