We’ve all done it: Made elaborate proclamations about how we were going to start off the new year by making some major changes—i.e.getting in shape, learning a new language, traveling more, or kicking a bad habit. Then we found ourselves a few weeks in and nothing was different, and our New Year’s resolutions just figments of our drunken revelry.
But that ends this year! We’ve got a plan to make sure you actually stick to those things in your life that you want to change or improve upon. We’ve got 5 useful tips that’ll help even the most laissez-faire resolution-maker stick to their goals.
1. Start small: Don’t go hog wild and try to accomplish too much, too soon. The feeling of accomplishing a goal is contagious, and if you start with a small, doable thing, you may find a sense of momentum building to even larger goals and bigger resolutions. For example, maybe your New Year’s resolution is to stop eating dessert, except on weekends. If you accomplish that goal, you may find yourself excited to try something bigger, like cutting out sugar all together.
2. Be specific: You can say “I want to learn an instrument” or “I want to lose weight,” but putting your resolution in concrete terms will help you actually achieve it. For example, try resolving to learn how to play a specific song on the guitar, or be able to do a certain amount of reps at the gym. Whatever it is, make your intentions clear to yourself (try putting them in writing) so you’ll have an exact goal to work toward.
3. Grab a Friend: Having a pal to set your resolutions with is a great way to make sure you actually stick to them. Even if you don’t have the same goals in mind, having someone to check in with on your progress can be the difference between simply talking about learning how to play the piano and actually signing yourself up for lessons. This goes double if you and a friend actually have the same resolution in mind—whether it’s taking a class, getting in shape, or getting rid of a bad habit—accountability is key.
4. Give yourself a time limit: If you say, “I’d like to quit smoking someday” it’ll never happen. Give yourself a hard and fast date by which you’d like to accomplish your goal and work backwards from there to make it happen. If, in three months, you’d like to lose 10 pounds, figure out a game plan for how that can reasonably (and healthily) be accomplished.
Set markers and check in with yourself on the regular to see if you’re sticking to your plan. If not, it may be time to revise your schedule, but don’t be too lax. Resolutions are about change, and change is about making yourself feel a little bit uncomfortable. Nobody said this was going to be easy all the way, so expect that you may have to give yourself an extra push here and there to reap the reward.
5. Keep a record of your progress: Map how you’re doing at keeping your resolution or meeting your goal. Check in with yourself once a week or daily, depending on how tight your deadline is, and how intense your goal. There’s no better feeling than having a goal and accomplishing it, we promise.