Get Your New Year’s Resolutions Back on Track

Chris Weinberger, Features writer

The new year just rolled around, and with it came some one-week, short-lived, or rarely maintained New Year’s resolutions. There could not be a more disastrous way to start the year of setting an idealized, unattainable goal that’s impossible to reach, staying dedicated for about 48 hours, then failing miserably and feeling horrible. Don’t feel too bad, though. This commonly happens to almost every person who decides they’re going to magically improve their life on a mere whim of thought. The reality is that trying to map out a new lifestyle in one cliche sentence at the beginning of every year will too often fail. So instead of going down this torturous and embarrassing path, try something new using these three simple tips to make effective changes that actually yield results.

The first step is to make smaller goals. So often, elaborate and glamorous goals that sound nice, but don’t actually help anybody and usually end up failing. So instead of coming up with a vague year long plan try to make one small improvement. For example, Nielsen, a company whose job is to study consumers, found that 28% of people decided that their New Year’s resolution would be to “live life to the fullest.” This resolution is vague, as well as too broad — it’s not possible to be consciously aware of “living life to the fullest” on a daily basis. Instead, try something simpler: Smile more often, talk with a stranger once a day, or call grandma every week. Easier goals like these take what might be an immense, overbearing task, and simplify it into a manageable objective.

The next step is to set weekly targets. Like the resolution previously referenced, vague, unorganized, year-long plans are sometimes unattainable. A major reason they almost never happen is because they have no structure; there is no way to ensure that any progress is being made. But the solution is straightforward: Add a weekly check-up into the resolution. With clear weekly targets, even if there are some mistakes, it’s easy to get back on track by adjusting some small behaviors.

Finally, be sure to keep track of progress. Keep a log of your goal and its progress and successes. Put these into a notebook to reference to see what worked, and what didn’t.

While New Year’s resolutions may be painful and bothersome right now, it’s a pretty smooth path to fixing them. The truth is that with just a few alterations to any New Year’s resolution, it can change from a tortuous, overwhelming ambition to a manageable and clear-cut goal.