Resolutions don't have to be a joke; try tips for success

Sunday , January 07, 2018 - 12:00 AM

By SIERRA CLARK
TX. Correspondent

The start of a new year typically signifies the chance to have a fresh start on improving ourselves, and although thousands of us commit to the task through new year’s resolutions, they are very seldom kept.

Only 8 percent of resolutions survive past February, according to a commonly cited statistic from Forbes. Certainly new year’s resolutions have become something of a joke, and there are many who have given them up as useless.

However, it doesn’t have to be that way. For those of us who want to change up the stats — and improve ourselves — in 2018, here are 10 tips for keeping those resolutions.

1. Mistakes don’t equal overall failure

It’s the final minutes before the stroke of midnight on New Year’s Eve. In the excitement, you couldn’t feel more optimistic about the coming year, and how you are going to be better in every way. In this moment, you forget about the little challenges. After all, how hard could it be?

Fast forward a month, and how tempting it is to give up your goals. The common culprit is making some sort of mistake in your original plan. When approaching your resolutions, it can be tempting to get upset when you missed a day or didn’t perform as well as you hoped. That’s why it’s important to recognize possible roadblocks while attempting to reach your goal and being hopeful that you can succeed. This way, little mistakes can be less likely to slow you down.

Remember, just because you didn’t do as well as you wanted in the moment, it doesn’t mean it has to be over. It’s all up to you.

2. Set attainable goals

Many new year’s resolutions are more ambitious at face value than is reasonable for most people. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t aim to stretch yourself, but rather, plan smaller goals to ultimately reach an overarching goal. Statistic Brain identified the top ten new year’s resolutions for 2017, and there are many that can be somewhat ambitious without further plans.

One example was “Find the love of my life”; while that is certainly an admirable goal, on its own it may not be attainable. A better way to look at it is to reflect and think of qualities you want to improve in yourself so you can find the right person for you, and make goals about those. Not only will it be more effective for reaching your bigger goals, but you will be happier knowing that you are taking steps toward your objective.

3. Try a new year’s motto

Some goals, like losing five pounds, are easily measured. As such, a more qualitative goal can be intimidating. It’s hard to know when you have reached the goal, and what if it isn’t really something you “reach,” but rather something you continue to improve upon?

One helpful idea is to make a motto to return to whenever you are in a situation when you want to be better. For example, instead of “Be less shy,” your motto when you’e in a situation when you simply want to defer and back away could be to “Be bold.” It’s empowering, and you can return to moments when you fulfilled your motto for inspiration as the year progresses.

If you decide to create a motto, remember to make it a positive one. When you are constantly berating yourself for not doing well, it can be more draining on motivation than the goal itself. Also, make your motto simple, but meaningful. If it’s a paragraph-long mission statement, it’s unlikely to be helpful.

4. Make goals specific

A good way to improve your chance at success is to make a goal specific. More common resolutions from Statistic Brain included things like: Lose weight, do more exciting things, work out more often, eat healthier, etc. The big problem with these goals is they are very general. What qualifies as “more exciting?” for instance? If you didn’t work out last year, but did once this year, does that count as “working out more?” If you want to succeed, know what success looks like.

5. Be accountable

Peer pressure is generally not considered a good thing, and rightly so. However, in the case of setting goals, telling friends and having them help you stay accountable can be a powerful tool. Tell your friends your goals, and help them remember theirs, and the pressure to succeed for them can help you to improve yourself. Many can benefit from the two-way street. Just remember to return the favor!

6. Have a plan

Although it bears many similarities to other goal-making techniques, creating a specific plan is another tool to reach your resolutions. If you know the steps to reach a goal, then it can seem substantially more within reach.

Some of the questions to consider are: What specific steps do I need to take to reach my goal? How am I going to make those steps happen? When will they be done? What obstacles may slow down my progress? In the end, asking questions non-stop, while possibly tedious for a moment, can provide a much better chance for success.

7. Create a reminder

This is especially helpful if you have something that you need to do on somewhat of a daily basis, but a visual reminder can help you keep your goals at the forefront of your mind. Whether it’s a daily reminder on your phone, an inspirational poster or a painted rock, it’s all up to you. Whatever will help bring your mind back to your ultimate purpose of your goal each day will be yet another way to set yourself up for success.

8. Create an atmosphere for success

This one may be a given, but if you are trying to stop doing something, find ways to distance yourself from it as much as possible. Find other things to fill the time you would typically spend on that thing.

Trying to eat less junk food? Stop walking down that aisle in the store. Trying to expand your vocabulary? Read types of books you wouldn’t usually wouldn’t bother with. Ultimately, if you make small changes to make it easier to reach your destination, then chances are that you’ll reach it.

9. Don’t make too many goals

All of us want to be better. Additionally, all of us have many things we could improve upon. But the fatal mistake in goal setting, even if each goal is set realistically, specifically, and with a plan, is to make too many goals. It may be true that you have no less than 17 things you want to make better, but by trying to tackle them all at once, you might not even be able to begin in the first place.

Bettering ourselves takes small steps, and you can’t take small steps in 17 aspects of your life simultaneously. It’s better to make one goal or very few goals, and set your focus on reaching them.

10. Believe in yourself

In the end, one of the most important things you can do to help yourself succeed is stay optimistic about your ability to succeed. When something doesn’t go quite right, it’s up to you to take a look at it, learn from it, but not allow yourself to give up. If you follow smart goal-making practices, there’s no reason you can’t succeed. It may sound cliché, but the only one who can truly stop you is yourself.

So new year’s goals are attainable. If you are willing to create reasonable goals, and are committed to making them a reality, you really can make 2018 an amazing year.

Sierra Clark is a junior at Venture High School. She plays piano and flute, loves reading and enjoys learning about new things. Email her at s.siclark@venturelearning.org.

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