A new year is upon us, and with that comes the opportunity for a fresh start — often in the form of a New Year’s resolution.
Whether you’ve vowed this is the year you’ll finally start hitting the gym before work, or making your way through the unread books on your shelf, or breaking out that fancy kitchen gadget you hardly ever use, it’s common to use this time to commit to self-improvement. In fact, it’s generally reported that anywhere from 40 to 50 percent of Americans make resolutions each year with a goal of bettering themselves in some capacity.
But what’s not as common? Actually accomplishing that goal. Studies show that only 8% of those who make resolutions fulfill them, and many give up as early as February. This means that the chances of becoming the new and improved you that you envisioned might be easier said than done.
So how can you set yourself up for success and become part of the 8% that crushes their New Year’s resolution? Here are three ways to hold yourself accountable and end the year a whole new you.
First things first, ensure that you make a resolution that you actually have a chance of achieving. When people are inspired about making a change in their lives, they tend to go big. They aim really, really high because they’re excited. But aiming too high sets them up for failure.
That’s where the SMART goal framework comes in. When thinking about your resolution, make sure it’s:
For instance: “I want to go to the gym twice per week before work to become healthier.” It’s specific, you’ll easily know whether or not you achieved it, it’s not aiming too high (you’re not saying you’ll go every day), it has relevancy (it’ll help you become healthier), and it has a time frame attached to it.
In addition, ask yourself two key questions:
On a scale of 1 to 10, how important is this to me?
On a scale of 1 to 10, how confident am I that I can do this?
If the answer to both is 8 or above, you have a better chance of staying motivated and accomplishing your goal.
How many times have you set out to achieve a resolution with the best of intentions, only to have life get in the way? It happens, but continually letting your goals fall by the wayside because you just don’t have the time to dedicate to them is a big-time cop-out.
An easy solution? Book time to work toward your goal in your calendar. Think about it: would you blow off a meeting with your boss because you don’t have time? Treat these sessions just as you would an important business meeting or appointment.
For instance, if you’ve resolved to make one new recipe per week, determine when you’ll research the recipe, when you’ll go shopping for ingredients and when you’ll do the actual cooking. Once you’ve figured out where these tasks fit into your schedule, book them. And even more importantly, uphold them. After all, making an appointment with yourself to improve an area of your life is about as important as a meeting can get.
Are you the type of person who thrives on extrinsic motivators (think rewards like praise or money, or on the flipside, not being punished) more than intrinsic ones (self-satisfaction or enjoyment)? If so, finding an accountability partner might be the ticket to finally keeping your resolution.
Enlist a friend who’s also dedicated to meeting a goal, and regularly check in on each other to ensure you’re both moving in the right direction. Sometimes simply knowing that you’ll have to tell someone you didn’t do what you said you would is enough of a motivator to stick to your plan. And if you’re concerned you and your friend will go too easy on each other, consider pairing up with a coworker you don’t know that well, or even working with a coach to avoid letting yourself off the hook.
While statistics may indicate that achieving your New Year’s resolution isn’t likely, trying these tips to hold yourself accountable will undoubtedly set you up for success.
Kaitlin Bitting is a content creator, public relations consultant and certified health & wellness coach. Learn more about her work at www.kaitlinbitting.com.