How to Make and Keep Your New Year’s Resolutions

As we start the beginning of a new year and a new decade, many of us will sit down and make promises to ourselves and set goals for the upcoming year. By the middle of February, it can be tough to keep our New Year’s Resolutions going. Maintain the momentum from the start of the year by following the five tips below. The leading research suggests that by including these considerations you are far more likely to be successful in keeping the promises you make to yourself!

Create a goal that is meaningful to you.

Instead of a resolution, develop an intention that truly motivates you. It’s often better to avoid the shoulds – those things you think you need to do, someone else wants you to do or society says you’re “supposed to do.” You’re more likely to reach a goal if you’re truly excited about it. Think about the “why” behind your intention. What is your underlying motivation for it? By creating a goal that resonates with you and excites you, if you start to get discouraged, you will have a much easier time remembering why you are making this change.

Reflect on how you want to feel

This is one of the most important considerations, and it can also tie in with your “why?” How do you want to feel in the new year? How do you want to feel on a daily basis? Come up with a word or phrase of the year. Post it where you can see it daily as a reminder and to help you make conscious decisions. For example, I want to feel “vibrant” or “energetic.” I will post these words on a board, on the refrigerator, on my mirror, at my desk and anywhere else I might see them on a daily basis. I will even come up with photos that reflect these feelings, and I can keep them in mind when making decisions.

Develop an action plan.

Once you get crystal clear on your intentions, consider how you will allow your vision to come to fruition. Getting better grades or being more fit doesn’t happen all by itself. By making a clear and detailed plan such as, “I will review my math on Mondays and Wednesdays – even when I don’t have homework,” and, “I will go for a run on Tuesday and Thursday after school,” are much stronger statements than, “I will study more,” or, “I will be more active.” If making the plan makes you anxious, then break it down to just one smaller step. What’s one thing that you can do immediately to help you get you closer to your goal?

Have an accountability partner who will support your vision

Share your goals with a friend or loved one. Work with a coach or mentor (or even better, contact your school counsellor for help!). Share your intention on social media if you dare. Sometimes self-discipline isn’t enough. Many successful people in this world did not reach their goals in isolation. Find people with similar interests. Surround yourself with people you admire and who possess the qualities you strive to possess. We often become like those we hang out with, so if you’re striving to be more positive, surround yourself with positive people. It’s okay to let go of relationships that you feel bring you down, deplete your energy or no longer serve you. It feels so refreshing to be with people who uplift you rather than drain your energy and spirit.

Be patient with yourself!

Remember that often change does not happen overnight. Your small, daily actions will bring about big changes. Consistency will be key. Momentum creates momentum, and before you know it, you’ll realize that your small steps have had a snowball effect and have manifested big results. And remember to reward yourself for the smaller victories along the way!

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Carole McMillan
Carole McMillan is Director of Personal Counselling at St. Michaels University School.

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