With the start of 2014 comes the inevitable start of resolution season. While it’s certainly admirable that we make an effort to evaluate ourselves and look for ways to be better in the coming year, the odds aren’t looking good for most of us.
Here are a few New Year’s Resolution statistics, according to a University of Scranton study.
- 45% of Americans usually make a New Year’s Resolution
- 24% of people admit they never succeed at their resolution
- 75% of people who make a resolution stick with it past one week
- 64% stick with it past a month
- Less than half (46%) make it past 6 months
These stats aren’t meant to bum you out; the desire for self-improvement is what makes humanity great. But the psychological effects of resolving to change and failing to do so can leave a lasting, negative impact and hurt your confidence.
You want to feel better about yourself in the new year, not worse, right?
If you’re the type of person who has a less-than-reassuring track record when it comes to the annual betterment ritual, there’s a solution: Aim lower.
No joke. Setting a realistic, attainable goal and finding the drive and determination to actually follow through with it helps build and maintain confidence. You’re the one that makes the rules to the game, and a win is a win. It’s about taking small but meaningful steps toward a better you, not giant, unrealistic leaps that set you up for failure.
So in the spirit of the “aim lower” method, let’s take a look at some of the most common resolutions and discuss alternatives to the standard “pie-in-the-sky” goals set (and not adhered to) by many.
It’s no secret: America is overweight. Resolving to shed unwanted pounds is a noble pursuit, but this is also one of the most unlikely resolutions to stick. Instead of trying to go to the gym every day and embarking on a crazy new diet, try…
New resolution: “I’m going to exercise three times per week and be mindful of what I eat.”
Starting a ridiculous exercise plan and going on a crash diet won’t last. Instead, consider setting aside a few minutes three times a week to work out. You don’t even need a gym and you can do it in as little as seven minutes. Learn how here.
Also sign up for a nutrition-logging service or download an app (like Lose It or My Fitness Pal) to keep track of what you’re putting in your body. You’ll notice that having an awareness of what you’re eating, combined with a desire to maintain your slowly-improving physique, will make the prospect of eating bad foods less desirable.
Save More Money
There are numerous benefits to saving more money, but setting your goals too high can put a strain on your finances and decrease your chances of improving your savings contributions long term. Instead of a crazy savings goal that’s hard to stick to, try…
New resolution: “I’m going to increase my 401(k) contribution,” and/or “I’m going to automatically save 2% of every paycheck.”
Many savings-related goals become difficult to maintain for two reasons: 1) They put too much strain on your budget and/or 2) They’re too manual and require extra effort. Set yourself up for success by resolving to save smaller amounts.
Make it automatic by payroll deductions or automatic transfers so you don’t have to think about it. Small, consistent contributions to a 401(k) or savings account can add up quickly. The trick is to make it so that you don’t even notice. If you have to hand over money on a regular basis, you’ll think about all the different ways you could spend it elsewhere. If it’s just missing from your paycheck, you probably won’t notice it, especially if it’s a reasonable amount.
Clean/Organize Your House
There’s a good chance that there’s some area of your home that could benefit from a good cleaning. If this sounds familiar, you could resolve to do a thorough, top-to-bottom housecleaning to start the new year off right. If that’s a tall order, you’re probably going to dread the prospect of getting started and it might not happen. Maybe you should try…
New resolution: “I’m going to create a schedule and make sure that I thoroughly clean and organize one critical area of my house every week.”
While there’s some satisfaction in getting everything done in one, cathartic swoop, getting started on a large task is daunting. Try a piecemeal approach and stick to it. The mental hurdle of cleaning just your bathroom instead of your entire house is much more manageable.
To do this, identify the key areas of your home that need attention. Create a list of all the people in your family who can help clean and organize. Assign everyone a cleaning and organization task for weekly completion. If properly implemented, you’ll begin to see a more consistently-cleaned home without having to devote a disproportionate amount of your valuable free time.
Regardless of your specific resolution, the “aim lower” method can help you succeed in sticking to your resolution. But more importantly, it’s about developing good habits that are easy to adhere to. Whatever you decide to do, just remember to take it one step at a time, and try not to overdo things.
Do you have any suggestions or tips for creating and adhering to a New Year’s resolution? Tell us about it in the comments below!