Practical ways to keep your New Year’s resolutions

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Only resolve to do things you really want to achieve. This may be a bit of a cliché, but it is still exceedingly important. If you don’t really want something, you won’t be able to make yourself really pursue it. Make sure your resolutions are taken into thoughtful consideration before you make them.

Specify your goals. Let’s face it, some resolutions are too vague. Say, for example, you resolve to go to the gym more. Technically going one time is more than zero times, right? But if you only go to the gym once, are you actually going to feel like you embraced your resolution fully? Instead it is better in the long run to set a specific goal. For example: “On Monday, Wednesday, and Friday I will go to the gym from 6–8 p.m.” Suddenly there’s considerably less space for loopholes.

Get an accountability-buddy. We’ve all been there when there’s something we should do — and actually really want to do — but for some reason we just can’t work up the energy to actually do it. Your accountability-buddy can save your resolution (and you can do the same for him when he needs support, too). 

Make a plan. If your resolution is to complete some sort of large project, whether it’s a home renovation or a self-improvement endeavor, having a plan is a key step to keep yourself from getting overwhelmed by a daunting task. 

Avoid absolutes. Too often a resolution is too absolute to be feasible. For example “no more sweets ever.” That’s kind of harsh, don’t you think? Of course being healthier is a worthy goal, but I believe there has to be some space for a few sweets in your new diet. Therefore call upon the Greek concept of moderation that is still pervasive in modern society: “All things in moderation.” You’re more likely to stick with your new resolution if it leaves some wiggle room. 

One at a time. Do you have a friend whose resolution list is long and unrealistic? He plans to go to the gym, change his diet, write an autobiography, fix up an old car, get a new job, win big in stocks, start his own business, and read all of Shakespeare’s works. While you can applaud the resolve with which this friend enters every year, does he ever accomplish any of those goals? With that in mind, take a step back and recognize that sticking to one resolution is better for your life than failing to keep up with 10.

Plan rewards. Sometimes we need a little extra push to keep us committed. Try to build this inevitable road bump into your resolution plan. For example, you could treat yourself to a nice dinner out at the end of every month when you’ve kept your resolution. Then whenever you feel like straying from your goal, you can remind yourself that you’ll end up missing out on a great meal if you do! 

Go easy on yourself. If you make a mistake or break your resolution, don’t throw in the towel and give up. Instead remember that everyone runs into similar situations. Getting up the next day and trying again is the mark of true resolve. 

Technology is your friend. Depending on your resolution, there may be apps you can download to your smartphone in order to help keep you on track. There are plenty of apps designated to help watch your diet, regulate gym hours, or even count how many cigarettes you’ve had. Even if you don’t think they’ll have an app for what you’re trying to accomplish, it can’t hurt to look. 

Block out negativity. New Year’s resolutions aren’t for everyone. For some people they’re just a silly tradition that leads to no real changes, while for others they actually bring about positive changes. Maybe you have friends or family members who think your resolution is silly or all for show. Just because they disapprove doesn’t mean you should give up. If you want to make a resolution and stick to it, then go for it and forget about what anybody else thinks.

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