A guide to improving your new year’s resolutions

A list of some of the most common New Year’s resolutions. Many people have a hard time completing their resolutions, but there are ways to improve them. (Credit: Ruby Conrad)

The start of a new year always brings feelings of change. You think to yourself, “this year is going to be different! This is the year I finally get my life together!”New Year’s resolutions are a good way to set goals and hold yourself accountable when going into the new year, but most people don’t use them effectively. According to the New York Post, only eight percent of people actually achieve their New Year’s resolutions, and eighty percent of people drop out by mid-February. But there are reasons why people fail, and there are easy ways to fix your own resolutions.

Be specific. Ambiguity is one of the most common pitfalls for resolutions, and eliminating such is the easiest way to improve your chances of keeping up your resolution. Making them specific lets you know whether or not you complete them, and can help you see if they are realistic or obtainable.

Common resolutions, such as “eat healthier” or “exercise more” aren’t specific enough. How do you measure whether you ate healthier than you did last year? It’s much easier to tell if you reached your goal if you set them to be easily measurable, for example, “eat five servings of fruits and vegetables every day” or “exercise three to five days a week.” Setting a time frame is an easy way to do this as mentioned above when talking about exercising three to five days a week.

Be realistic. Humans are idealistic creatures. It’s hard for most people to balance school, extracurriculars, work, a social life, and any resolution-based activities into their day. Be realistic about if your goals can fit into your schedule. For example, if you have school, a job and are in a club, it may be hard to work out five days a week on top of that.

Another part of being realistic is looking to see if the goal is physically attainable. If your goal is to study for three hours after school every day, but you can barely focus on homework for thirty minutes without getting distracted, you may need to re-evaluate your resolution. Start small and work your way up to your main goal; with the example above, maybe start with studying for 45 minutes, and work your way up once that becomes easier.

Know your “why.” The most common resolutions people make are about appearance or being healthier: lose weight, work out more, eat healthier, etc. While these resolutions can be beneficial for some, for others it’s just a projection of what society wants them to do or be. When making your resolution, know why you’re doing it. Do you want to eat healthier and lose weight for yourself, or for your family, crush, etc? Reflect and ask yourself; “Why do I want this?”

Be S.M.A.R.T. A good way to make resolutions is to keep the acronym S.M.A.R.T. in your head. This acronym stands for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Time-based. If you keep these ideas in your head when writing New Year’s resolutions, you should have an easy time making them.

Commit. You’ve written your resolutions. They’re specific, realistic, and have meaning behind them. You’re ready to improve your life. What now? When achieving a resolution, you have to commit to it. Changing habits is hard, especially if your resolution includes altering your routine. You just need to remember to commit to the change. Put a sticky note on your wall where you’ll see it, set a reminder on your phone, do anything you can to achieve your resolution. It can also be helpful to set resolutions with any friends or family, to help you keep each other accountable.

Stay positive. One of the worst things you can do when keeping up your New Year’s resolutions is to be negative towards yourself. It’s okay to mess up, as long as you don’t quit after you make a mistake. Just come back and try again. Also, don’t forget to celebrate your wins, even if they seem insignificant. The small victories along the way are as important as the big ones in the end. 

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