How to Succeed at New Year’s Resolutions
The New Year can be a good time for you and your kids to set important goals, academic and otherwise. However, most New Year’s resolutions fail (yes, mine included!). Whether it’s losing weight or exercising more, surveys show that only about eight percent of resolutions result in success.
The question is: why? And then . . . how?
Why do most resolutions fail?
And how can you boost your success rate?
Here are some answers, starting with two of my own (rare but successful) resolutions.
Make It Simple and Do-Able
A lot of resolutions fail because they’re too ambitious: like a crash weight-loss program that’s just too hard to maintain. How about something simple and do-able? When our kids were younger, we grew concerned about them watching too much TV. So one New Year’s Day we sat them down (they were ages seven and ten) and said, here’s a resolution for the new year: no TV until you finish your homework. Then one hour of TV. That was it. And it worked for years. Clear, simple, and do-able.
Get One Truly Motivating Idea
Experts say it’s hard to stick with something unless you’ve nailed your motivation. I’ve made resolutions for years about exercising more, to little avail. Last year, I decided to try an app called the 7-Minute Workout (free and well-recommended), and to exercise right after a morning shower, a tactic that worked for a friend. All well and good: but how to stick to it? I had read this advice about exercise: instead of thinking of it as a chore, think of it as a gift you give yourself and loved ones: the gift of better health for now and the future. This single motivating idea has been my key to sticking with it.
Follow the Most Practical Advice
I did some research and found a ton of advice about why resolutions succeed or fail: some were good, some so-so, and some way too complicated. The best advice was short, sweet, and practical. I really liked this piece on Huffington Post by Dr. Guy Winch, which identifies five common mistakes and how to fix them. Be sure to read the whole article, but here’s a summary:
- Avoid “goal binging”: don’t make too many resolutions. Instead, make one or two.
- Create “measurable” goals: instead of a vague resolution, like “trying harder at work,” create a specific goal like meet all your deadlines.
- Don’t set “unrealistic” goals: you may want to write the Great American Novel, but instead resolve to take a writing class or join a group.
- Make a plan: break your goal into sub-goals, figure out how you’ll reach each one, and think through how you’ll deal with setbacks.
- Have a “Timeline”: Write out clear dates for starting and completing your goals.
You may also find technology can help with your resolutions. Read Learning Liftoff’s post on “10 Free Apps to Help You Keep Your New Year’s Resolutions” and find out if there’s an app for that!
Do you have any advice for readers on how you or your kids can succeed at New Year’s resolutions? Please add it to the comments section below!
Michael Solow has worked as a teacher, journalist, and commercial writer/creative director. Michael has also taught high school English and junior high math, gaining his teaching certification from Vassar College and a master's degree in the teaching of writing and literature from George Mason University. His writing has been published in the New York Times, the San Francisco Review of Books, TheMorningNews.org, and the Hemingway Review. He is the proud dad of two grown daughters and the happy husband of an elementary school librarian.