Almost half of all Americans make a New Year's resolution, but most fail to meet their new goals. There are two main reasons why people don't stick to their resolutions: They set unreasonable goals, or they don't make a plan for reaching their goals.  

Keeping your New Year's resolution

Almost half of all Americans make a New Year's resolution, but most fail to meet their new goals. There are two main reasons why people don't stick to their resolutions: They set unreasonable goals, or they don't make a plan for reaching their goals. 

 

Consider the following practical tips for making New Year's resolutions and sticking with them.

  • Make realistic resolutions
    This means resolving to do something (or not do something) that is under your control. For example, resolving that this will be the year you get married is unrealistic, but resolving to be open to meeting new people is something you can do.
  • Don't make too many resolutions
    Many people make long lists of things they will do differently in the new year. But this often ends up in failure because it involves too much change. Limit yourself to one or two sincere, realistic resolutions.
  • Be specific
    Vague resolutions such as, "I'm going to lose weight," are difficult to keep. But a specific goal such as, "I'm going to lose five pounds by March 1," is easier to reach.
  • Come up with a plan for reaching your resolutions
    Resolving to do something is just the first step. The second step is deciding how you're going to do it. For example, if your goal is to quit smoking, decide whether you'll quit cold turkey or taper off. Will you use a nicotine patch or medication? Determine what your obstacles are for keeping your resolution and where you'll turn for support when you are having a hard time not smoking. The same is true for losing weight, saving money, or giving up chocolate -- you need a plan.
  • Write it down
    Research shows that people who commit their goals on paper are much more likely to achieve them. Write your resolutions down and include how keeping this resolution will make a difference in your life. Then put your list in a prominent place, such as on your refrigerator or use your electronic calendar for setting reminders.
  • Recruit support
    Tell friends and family members about your resolutions and ask them to help you meet your goals.
  • Forgive yourself if you slip up
    Most New Year's resolutions require lifestyle changes, and these are never easy to make. A University of Washington study found that only four in ten people stuck to their number one resolution on the first try. The others had to keep working at it, and one in six people had to make more than six attempts to succeed. Be patient, and don't be too hard on yourself if you occasionally slip up.