About 45 percent of Americans usually make resolutions, but only 8 percent successfully achieve their goals, according to the Statistic Brain Research Institute.
Among the top resolutions year after year are to lose weight, get organized, save more, enjoy life to the fullest, exercise, learn something new, quit smoking and spend more time with family.
So what can you do to beat the odds and make 2016 the year you finally keep those resolutions? Here are a few tips to set you up for success.
Keep it simple
Set realistic goals you can commit to rather than trying to overhaul major aspects of your life. Vowing to quit smoking cold turkey sounds impressive but you could be setting yourself up to fail. It may be better to commit to smoking fewer cigarettes every day or to joining a smoking-cessation class.
Make one change at a time
Avoid making multiple resolutions. Instead, pick one area of your life – health, finances, family relations, career – you would like to improve or change.
Take baby steps
Break down your resolution into manageable, concrete steps that can help you achieve the changes you want. For example, if your goal is to lose weight, think about using the stairs more often, going to the gym three times a week and bringing a healthy lunch to work. These small steps can lead to success. Avoid absolutes. Instead of saying you will never eat sweets again, vow to save dessert for special occasions.
Set a reasonable timeline
Change doesn’t happen overnight, especially when it comes to altering habits. Set a realistic timetable to gauge results. For example, don’t resolve or expect to lose 30 pounds in a few weeks when it probably took you months or years to gain the weight. Be patient.
Enlist the help of others
Share your resolutions with friends, family and colleagues who can offer encouragement and keep you accountable. If possible, pair up with someone who has a similar resolution. Find an exercise buddy, or perhaps you know someone who wants to take the same cooking class.
Treat yourself when you reach small milestones. Celebrate your successes. For example, reward your 10-pound weight loss with a new pair of sneakers. Got the garage organized? Go hit a bucket of balls. Made it to the gym three times a week for a month? Get a manicure. Do something that makes you happy.
Understand that changing behavior and trying new things takes lots of thought and effort. Expect setbacks along the way. But don’t use temporary missteps as an excuse to abandon your goals. Rather, embrace the imperfection. Acknowledge your mistakes and get right back on track.
With the proper attitude and a bit of planning, you will find New Year’s resolutions are easier to keep.