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How Can I Make New Year's Resolutions That Stick?
How Can I Make New Year's Resolutions That Stick?12/10/2019

hand writing several new years resolutions inside circles on chalkboardQ: Every December, I draw up a list of New Year’s resolutions that look depressingly similar to the ones I wrote last year. How can I make things different this year?

A: It’s fairly easy to dream of change, but it’s another thing entirely to actually make it happen. In fact, research shows that only 8 percent of people achieve their annual resolutions. However, with careful planning and the right approach, it is doable.

Whether your resolutions are about getting into shape, taking control of your finances or spending more time with loved ones, you can reach your goals in 2020. Here are some tips on making change last.

Make it SMART
  • Specific. Don’t be vague about how you want to improve. Resolutions like “Get myself into shape,” or “Take control of my finances,” don’t translate into tangible steps. Instead, make goals like “Start working out twice a week,” or “Save $100 a month.” This way, your resolutions are clear and easy to put into action.

  • Measureable. Make sure your goals have clear markers to help you track progress. Some resolutions, like losing weight, naturally lend themselves to tracking, but others, like self-improvement goals, are more challenging to measure. Take the time now to create markers for your progress to make it easier for you to stay the course.

  • Achievable. Be realistic about what you intend to accomplish. If you haven’t worked out in years, don’t resolve to run a 10K this year. Instead, start small, like committing to a 10-minute daily workout. When you set goals that are within your reach, you’re less likely to abandon them when the going gets tough.

  • Relevant. It’s best to concentrate on the areas where you most need to improve. While other goals may sound nobler, work first on the areas where you know you are lacking.

  • Time-based. Set a specific date for achieving each goal. A self-imposed deadline will push you to work on your resolution today.
Write it down

Don’t make a list in your head or scrawl your resolutions on a piece of paper you’ll lose by Jan. 2. Instead, save your resolutions on your phone, using a note-taking app like Evernote or OneNote. If you prefer to work with old-fashioned paper and pen, you can slip the paper with your resolutions into a plastic sheet-protector and hang it up in a prominent place where it won’t get lost.

Chart your progress

Use a calendar to check off every day you’ve stuck to your resolutions. Visual reminders of your success can be a powerful motivator. When you look at your calendar and you see you’ve been sticking to your goal for the last six days, you won’t want to break that consistency the next day.

Don’t keep your resolutions to yourself

One of the best ways to ensure success is to share your journey with others. Here are three ways you can do this:

Enlist the help of a friend

It’s easy to fool yourself into thinking you’ve changed; it’s a lot harder to fool a friend. Pair up with a pal this year and commit to keeping each other in check. Share your resolutions and designate one day a week, or twice a month, as a check-in day, in which you note each other’s progress and give honest feedback on how you can each improve further.

Post your progress on social media

This will make you accountable to an entire audience and just might give you the motivation you need to keep going.

Join a support group

The American Psychological Association recommends joining a support group dedicated to your goal, such as a workout class at the gym or a group of coworkers determined to quit smoking. You can even join one on Facebook.

Celebrate each win

Don’t wait until you’ve shed the last pound or reached your savings goal to celebrate your achievements. Reward yourself for the smaller goals you reach along the way, like a 10-pound target or the first $1,000 you sock away in your savings account. Celebrating your progress will give you the motivation you need to keep on improving.

Embrace imperfection

Don’t expect a 180-degree change this year in the area you’ve decided to improve. While you should never lose sight of your goals, it’s important to accept that perfection is a myth. Trying to force it can leave you feeling frustrated and discouraged. You can be a wonderful, better you without being perfect.

With careful planning and hard work, you can make 2020 the year your resolutions stick. And we are here to help with any financial goals and resolutions. If you want to save money but have a difficult time doing so, consider doing an automatic deposit or transfer each month from your checking account. If your goal is to save $100 a month and you get paid twice a month, have $50 automatically deposited to a savings account each paycheck. Or you can set up automatic, recurring transfers in online banking or mobile banking so you don’t even have to remember or think about it! Before you know it, you’ll have your savings account!

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