Ring in the New Year with Success

Six Tips to Make Your 2021 Resolutions Stick

With the approach of each new year, we focus on new beginnings. As 2020 draws to a close, so many of us want to turn the page more than ever and start 2021 on the right foot. Perhaps you already have a resolution in mind. Or perhaps, you’re wondering if you should make one. And it’s a good question; according to U.S. News and World Report, only 40% of Americans bother to make resolutions. This is likely because 80% of them quit on their resolutions by February, and only 8% succeed in achieving their goals. Still, those that do make resolutions are 10 times more likely to change their behavior than those who do not. And with a little know-how and some old-fashioned stick-to-it-iveness, you can set a resolution you can achieve, then bask in the good feeling of your success. Here are six tips to make your 2021 resolutions stick.

Be Specific

“Exercise more,” “read more,” and “save money,” are all admirable goals, but they’re too large and too ambiguous to be attainable. So, narrow your focus. Instead of “exercise more,” try, “follow an online 5K training plan” or “lift weights three times per week.” Instead of “read more,” try “read one book per month” or “read for fifteen minutes each day before bed.” And instead of “save money,” try, “put $50 into my savings account each week,” or “each time I splurge on a Frappuccino, I will put the same amount of money into my savings account.” Each time you do one of these things, give yourself credit for the achievement and allow yourself to be proud of it. It’s a good feeling, and you’ll want more of it.

Make it Measurable

It’s easy to measure weight loss and fitness goals by the number on the scale or the plates on the barbell, and monetary goals by the bottom line in your bank account. But with some planning, any goal can be objectively measurable. If you decide you want to meditate three times per week, mark the days in your calendar and cross them off as you complete them. If you want to de-clutter your home, put 10 items into a box or bag each week, and deliver it to a donation center at the end of each month. If you want to stop biting your nails, take weekly photos to monitor your progress. When you can physically see your success, it keeps you hungry for more.

Figure out your “WHY”

Sure, you want to quit smoking. But think on the reasons you want to do so. Is it to be healthier? Or, more specifically, to stop that nagging cough and to walk up the stairs without losing your breath? Is it to save the money you spend on packs of cigarettes and dry cleaning? Is it to make the air in your home safer for your children? Having a clear motivation behind your resolution that concretely shows the positives of making a change outweigh the positives of the status quo greatly increases the likelihood that you will stick to your plan. Write down those positives and keep the list in your wallet or on your desk so you can refer to it when sticking to your plan becomes challenging.

Don’t Repeat Resolutions

If you made a resolution last year and failed, pick a new one this year so you don’t start with a low level of confidence. The first step to keeping a resolution is approaching it with the right attitude, because what the new year brings to you depends a great deal on what you bring to the new year.

If you must try again with the same goal, reflect on the reasons you may have failed, and consider altering the resolution to account for those pitfalls. For example, if your resolution was to “quit drinking,” perhaps scale back to “drink only on the weekends.” Changing your approach may bring more positive results.

Get Support

Articulating your goals to a friend or family member will help you stay motivated and accountable. It’s even better if you can find a buddy who shares your goal, so you can talk about your progress and keep each other on-task. Or, join a group that shares your goal. If your objective is to cook more dinners at home, try joining an online cooking group that cooks one new recipe together each week. Or, if you’re not the social type, choose an app that gives you reminders to fulfill your daily commitments; there’s an app for everything nowadays, and some will even give you points for completed sessions. Everyone likes a reward!

Assess and Adapt

Many of us give up completely when we encounter a setback to our goal. So, your work schedule got crazy and you missed a workout. Instead of giving up on the rest of your workouts for the week, give yourself a pass, assess why the day got away from you and make a plan to get back on track; get up 30 minutes earlier, exercise on your lunch break, or take the whole family for an after-dinner walk. If you view small relapses as learning opportunities rather than actual roadblocks, you’ll be better prepared to both put them behind you and to deal with them in the future.