No one really knows when the practice of having a New Year’s resolution started. But everyone who has experienced making one knows it’s quite a challenge. It is as easy to decide on as choosing what to eat for breakfast but could come really difficult a pursuit as quitting a long-standing habit. In fact, such resolutions falter after the first few weeks of the New Year! About 20% of people go back to their past year’s practice and slowly throwing out the resolution after a month. By the middle of 2011, it’s likely that over half of those who made resolutions would totally put their commitments aside.
It is interesting to note as well that those who have had relatively notable success in their past New Year’s resolution are likely to do 78% better in 2011. People who resolved to do better at work and business and experienced positive results are in good standing as well for the next year. In the meantime, those who were interested in solving their problems but didn’t go past the sixth months of 2010 are likely to do much less. Their success rate of just 8% last year would likely go lower. Those who made life-changing resolutions and got a success rate of over 40% are projected to get over 83% when 2011 ends.
Among the most common resolutions with notable success rates are less alcohol consumption, taking trips and vacations, learning a new skill, managing stress or getting better education. Coming in second from the top resolutions with good statistics at success would be doing volunteer work, saving money, getting fit and losing weight, and career productivity. Those with poor marks at success ratings would be resolutions on quitting smoking, overcoming emotional issues leading to various forms of addiction, overspending and debt management.
If you’re bent on making changes in your life for the next year, then you must know that setting New Year’s resolution would need a really strong will, discipline and utmost desire. It is important to know as well that this decision made at the turn of the year is like goal setting. It must be based on a deep-seated aspiration where you know its achievement will make life better. Your success at setting New Year’s resolution should also provide you that sense of completion and self satisfaction. Thus, it is crucial that the decision comes from within you and not pressure upon you by others. While others are bent on improving their health, finances or spiritual conditions, yours could be more on productivity or better time management. This is to say that while there are general forms of setting New Year’s resolution, it is important that the one you make addresses your foremost life concerns.
The essentials of goal setting are strongly similar to resolution for the New Year. To better explain, here is what you must note to have easier but most effective ways to end next year with success:
1. Make it specific.
What is the figure or number that you must resolve on following? People often just say they will start losing weight as soon as January 1 comes in. Many others say they will drink less or go to the gym more often. After a few months, they aren’t quite sure how they have fared at it. This is because generalizing your resolution makes it immeasurable. But when you make it specific, setting New Year’s resolution can come really clear.
If you want to lose weight, indicate how many pounds you want to shed off. If you want to work some more hours, know how many hours is more. The same way with cutting down drinking or expenses, know how much less alcohol intake and how much money you want to save each week or each month. When you make your goal specific, you know how to achieve that figure or numbers and find it easy to monitor how you’re doing at it. More importantly, setting New Year’s resolutions that are specific could come with specified modes of action to achieve it. You’d know the Dos and Don’ts of the game when it’s specific.
2. Make it realistic.
Anyone can wish on a star but their actions in real life must be in sync with such wishes. People who dream big but know so little and lack the discipline about achieving that dream often find themselves with just a dream. Plus, they get loads of frustration about life and themselves for not achieving their dream. Hence, their esteem is knocked down and out.
To avoid or lessen chances of failure, setting New Year’s resolution must be anchored on reality.
As with goal setting, there must be a lifetime or long-term target involved, as well as chunks of smaller goals that all lead to achieving just one resolution. It’s unfair to your self to dream of being as rich, famous and powerful for the next year. What would be sensible is to earn more, be noted for your hard work and achievements and have control over yourself. Base your resolutions on improving yourself step by step instead of making it to a worldwide magazine cover while struggling with finances and career.
In setting New Year’s resolutions that are realistic, check ahead that picture of you working for that goal. If the picture is too overwhelming, you might want to tone down your resolution.
A realistic goal is something you want for yourself that can be achieved; an unrealistic one is something you wish to become or have based on how you want people to see you. It is rooted on others’ definition of who you are or who you must be, and thus, makes the New Year’s resolution or goal unrealistic. But even if your goal for 2011 is simply about learning to manage your time better or exercising more, that would be realistic. It is what you want and you can do it, without too much attention to how others would see it.
3. Make it known.
Those who have been successful with their New Year’s resolutions got by with a little help from people around them. It could be their closest friends, people from work, a mentor or their family. By making your aspiration known to others who play a significant role in your life, you get support along the way. At the same time, you get reminders every now and then that the efforts need to be consistent. Some friends or family members often check and see how you are doing with your weight loss program or the stress-reducing calendar at work.
Once you have that clear, realistic goal for 2011, let two or a few more people know your aspiration. This way, you’re getting a fans’ club or cheerers or a support group to keep you inspired in the pursuit.
4. Make it measurable by time.
Deadlines might be a stressful word for some. But if you’re setting New Year’s resolutions with no timeframe in mind, chances are, you have the rest of this century to achieve it!
It is vital to make your goals measurable by periods. If you plan to quit drinking or smoking before June next year, don’t quit when it’s the end of May. Instead, cut down the alcohol starting on New Year’s eve with gradual decrease for the next few weeks. After three months, check how you are doing. The same way with cigarettes, just quit as soon as you decide to quit. If it’s too difficult after years of nicotine addiction, settle with fewer sticks a day until June sees you totally free from the nasty habit.
For those struggling with career or finances, indicate which month of 2011 you want to grasp better production or free from debts. Work slowly but surely towards it. This would be the same with resolutions to go to the gym more, battle stress and relax some more or spend more time with your family. It is important to get any resolution measured by periods, lest you get the same fleeting commitment by Christmas of 2011.
5. Make it fun and rewarding.
Setting New Year’s resolutions aren’t meant to be punishments or agonizing efforts. Sure, it might be so for those struggling with physiological dependency issues, but what comes ahead is a rewarding end. That makes the goal meaningful and the result truly a magnanimous triumph for one battling long-standing habits. People struggling with obesity as a result of overeating and other unhealthy diet practices, including people who smoke and drink a lot, are likely to be struggling emotionally and physically with implementing their resolutions. With such grim scenario, it’s difficult to find “fun” in there.
But the element of enjoyment over sticking to your New Year’s resolution need not be in the difficulty but what you would put in place of what you’re going to cut off or lose. People must choose put the “fun” element instead of hoping its fun to go through all the emotional roller-coaster of change. I know a friend who quit smoking by making artwork out of the tobacco bits in each cigarette stick. Someone I met in college jogged every day as part of forming his study habits, and he aced all exams except one. A relative of mine battled drinking by turning shards of glass from alcohol bottles into picture frames! Personally, my success at eating healthy came with learning new ways to cook and prepare food. Now that’s putting fun or choosing to have fun while achieving a better self!
As for setting New Year’s resolutions that are rewarding, look ahead again and look deep within you. If the picture of successfully achieving that goal puts a smile to your face right away, and feed a sudden desire to do something meaningful right now, that goal is indeed rewarding!