I recently came across a definition for New Year’s Resolutions: noun; a to-do list for the first week of January. It made me laugh, but I also realize that it’s often all too true. We start the year with the best of intentions: eat healthy, lose weight, get organized, save money, and the list goes on. According to the Journal of Clinical Psychology, 45% of Americans make New Year’s resolutions, and it’s impressive that as many as 46% of those resolutions are maintained more than six months. But sticking to New Year’s resolutions isn’t easy – 24% of respondents in the study reported that they never succeed on their resolution and fail each year. As a professional organizer in NYC, I recommend following some of the same tactics to tackle New Year’s resolutions as I those that I suggest for achieving any goals:
- Write your resolution(s) down and put your lists someplace you’ll see it regularly – your computer monitor, your car dashboard, your bathroom mirror. Make your resolutions hard to ignore.
- Make your resolutions specific and measurable. Rather than resolving to “live healthier,” perhaps start with getting more sleep… but even that’s still too vague. Your resolution could instead be to go to bed by 10pm on weeknights so that you get eight hours of sleep each night. If you’re familiar with SMART goals, this probably sounds familiar (more on SMART goals).
- Create your dream team. Enlist a family member, friend or co-worker to support you in your efforts, keep you accountable (we all have those days where we just don’t want to go to the gym), and celebrate your successes. You may need to identify different support team members for different resolutions; it’s unlikely that one person is a fit for every one of your goals.
- Focus on resolutions one at a time. Trying to make multiple changes at once can leave you feeling overwhelmed and ready to give up before Valentine’s Day. Prioritize the resolutions and work through them individually.
- Be okay about slipping up. It’s bound to happen. Changing behaviors is often difficult work and establishing new routines takes time. If you start to revert to old habits, use it as a learning experience and re-start with new focus.
Making New Year’s resolutions may well be worth the effort. The Journal of Clinical Psychology study also found that people who explicitly make resolutions are 10 times more likely to attain their goals than people who don’t explicitly make resolutions. Let’s go!