Don’t attempt sweeping changes. A resolution to revamp your entire lifestyle is destined to fail. Instead, focus your energy on making one attainable change. For example, strive to squeeze in 10 more minutes of exercise per day or save $5 a week. Once this habit is established, you can build on your success with a new goal.
Clearly define your goal. Resolutions to eat better, lose weight or get organized are too vague. When the path to the target is unclear, it is easy to get off track. Set yourself up for success by making your resolution more specific. For example, resolve to eat one extra serving of vegetables per day, lose 10 pounds by June or organize one room in your home. Then, break that goal into smaller milestones to help you maintain motivation.
Know your cues. Keeping a resolution means changing a habit, often something you do on autopilot. Let’s say you resolve to eat less junk food—it’s important to know when and why the craving strikes. For example, do you head to the candy machine when you’re bored or stressed at work? Knowing this makes it easier to catch yourself next time you feel the urge to splurge and bring a sensible snack from home instead.
Keep track. First, write down your resolution. As you work your way toward the distant finish line, record each step of your progress. If your enthusiasm begins to fade, review your notes. Seeing how far you’ve come helps strengthen your resolve to carry out your plan to completion.
Provide incentives. Changing habits is hard work! As you achieve each mini-milestone or successfully resist something you’ve resolved to avoid, give yourself a reward. Recognizing your efforts with a little treat feels good, which helps reinforce the new habit.
Be prepared for slipups. It can take as long as 30 days for a new habit to feel natural. Don’t let one lapse knock you off course forever. See it as a chance to start fresh. Remind yourself of what you set out to accomplish, and renew your commitment to your resolution.