About five years ago, I started doing something different with my resolutions. As opposed to setting huge, non-specific goals, like lose 10 pounds or learn Italian, I now make a few mini-goals for myself that I could try to accomplish at different times throughout the year.
For example, instead of “read more”, my goal became “read six books by May.” I could then track my progress through the first five months of the year by keeping track of each book that I read, that way I felt like I was accomplishing something throughout that entire time.
If you feel like you’re stuck in a rut when it comes to resolutions (or have completely given up because you can’t seem to stay on track each year), follow some of these simple rules to see if 2016 can’t just be the year you actually make yourself really happy with your goals.
1. Be realistic.
One area that people really tend to go wrong when it comes to making resolutions is that they shoot for the moon, and then halfway through the year when they realize they probably aren’t going to reach their goal, they give up. For example, if you’ve been smoking multiple packs of cigarettes a day for years now, setting a goal of going cold turkey on Jan. 1 and not smoking for the whole year is probably unrealistic. Why not instead set a goal of doing research in January to figure out what methods might best help you quit, trying to cut back each day by a certain number of cigarettes in the first half of the year, and then cut back even more in the second half? These goals might be much more easily attained, which will make you feel better when you accomplish them and will make you more likely to stay on track.
2. Write it down.
Having an idea in your head about what you’d like to accomplish for the year is great, but if you don’t write it down, there’s nothing concrete to keep you to your goal. Whether it’s on your computer, in a journal or written on a sticky note you tape to your bathroom mirror or refrigerator, writing down what you’d like to achieve is a surefire way to remember all that motivation you had to reach your goal back in January when it’s June and the New Year fervor has long gone.
3. Keep track of your accomplishments.
Making goals is no fun if you don’t get to celebrate them! While some would say that the actual act of achieving your goal should be celebration enough, let’s be real — rewarding yourself for a job well done is always more fun. And no — you can’t celebrate six months of being cigarette free with a cigarette, that goes without saying. Instead get your friends in on the game and set up a book club to help discuss all those new books you’re reading each month, or invite people over for a fancy dinner to show off the new cooking skills you’ve been practicing. Again, involving other people in your accomplishments is a fun way to make sure you stay on track.
With just a few small steps, you can be well on your way to accomplishing great things with your New Year’s resolutions! So — what does 2016 have in store for you?