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The Secret to Creating a New Year’s Resolution That Lasts

  • Category: LiveSmart
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  • Written By: Baldwin

Notebook with new year's resolutions numbered 1-6 on a laptop with earbuds and a pen.

Ready to make lasting changes? Following these tips may help you achieve your goal.

With the new year upon us, you may be thinking about what kind of resolutions to make. If so, you're not alone. Millions of people set out on January 1st with big plans and high expectations. But even those with the best of intentions often struggle to keep resolutions very long.

According to a study by the University of Scranton, only about 8% of people actually achieve their New Year's resolutions. Although you will be among good company if you don't reach your goals, it feels much better to actually be successful at making positive changes in your life. So if you're serious about making a New Year's resolution that lasts, here are a few secrets that can help.

When deciding what your resolution will be, make it:

  • Meaningful. Don't just choose a resolution because it's what everyone else is doing or because you think it's something you should do. Your resolution should be something you truly want to achieve.
  • Realistic. Don't try to change too much at once. Start with one small, achievable goal. Once you've achieved that goal, you can set another one.
  • Positive. Focus on what you want to achieve, rather than what you want to avoid. For example, instead of resolving to "quit smoking," resolve to "live a smoke-free life."
  • Specific. The more specific your resolution is, the easier it will be to track your progress and stay motivated. For example, instead of resolving to "get in shape," resolve to "run 3 miles three times a week."
  • Measurable. Set goals you can measure. For example, instead of resolving to "eat healthier," resolve to "eat at least five servings of fruits and vegetables per day."

Once you have a resolution in mind, here are a few tips that will make it more likely you'll achieve what you set out to do:

  • Make a plan. Before you even get started, make a plan for how you're going to achieve your goal. This includes identifying any obstacles you may face and how you're going to overcome them. You don't have to have it all figured out at the outset, but at least think through what you need to do in order to reach your first goal.
  • Track your progress. It's very motivating to be able to see how far you've come. Keep tabs on how you're doing in a journal, planner or app. When your motivation wanes, look back on what you've done since the start and use it to spur you to keep going.
  • Be patient. It takes time and effort to make lasting changes. Don't get discouraged if you slip up or don't see results immediately. If you just keep working at it and don't give up, you will eventually achieve your goal. Your direction is more important than your speed.
  • Celebrate your successes. When you reach a goal, no matter how small it may be, take time to celebrate your success. This recognizes the hard work you've already done and helps you stay motivated to keep moving forward.

Creating a New Year's resolution that lasts is not about being perfect. It's about making a commitment to yourself to make lasting changes and then taking small and specific steps, in the time frame that works for you, to achieve your goals.

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Date Last Reviewed: October 19, 2023

Editorial Review: Andrea Cohen, Editorial Director, Baldwin Publishing, Inc. Contact Editor

Medical Review: Perry Pitkow, MD

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