There’s a certain amount of hope that comes with a New Year. This is going to be the year we are going to clean our house, do the laundry every day, eat healthily, be nicer, give more! The data is not on our side.
According to science, less than 10% of us are actually going to keep that resolution going past the first month. Luckily there is some research into goals and what we can do to keep them.
First, choose a specific goal. “I’m going to eat healthier.” is not actually a specific goal. What does a healthy diet and an unhealthy look like for you? Start with one small objective that goes into the larger “eat healthier” goal. A fruit a day, 8 ounces of water when you first wake up, adding a veggie to your dinner plate. Start with one small thing and once it’s a consistent habit, add another.
Second, recognize your habits. Maybe your goal was to give up technology 30 minutes before bed but you have made a habit of charging your phone next to your bed. After you have identified the habits that might sabotage your goal, actively work to change them. Get an alarm clock and charge your phone in the hallway, the kitchen or downstairs. Remember, in order to break an existing habit, you are going to have to replace it with a new one!
Third, support each other! If you have a partner/friend who has decided to give up their daily Starbucks in order to be more budget-friendly do not be the person who texts to ask them if they want Starbucks as you are going through the line. You do not have to change your habits to support your loved one/friends but you do not have to sabotage them either.
Fourth, pair your goal with something good! Your favorite audiobook series can be paired with working out at the gym, your night glass of wine gets enjoyed after you have finished that load of laundry, you have kicked your Starbucks everyday habit and now you are paying down debt and saved enough for a small trip! Just make sure your chosen good thing does not sabotage you. Do not reward yourself for not drinking soda all week by drinking soda at the end of the week, for instance.
And finally, practice self-compassion. If you mess up one day that does not mean that your whole year is done. Analyze what happened, re-evaluate your goal (was it too broad? Has something in your life changed?) and tweak it if necessary. Start again.
For more science on keeping resolutions: