Come every January, we evoke a list with great hopes and dreams for next year. Lose 30 pounds, run a marathon, read more, drink less coffee. Nearly half of all Americans have at least one goal to better themselves in the new year, but only 8% really succeed.1 The problem? Most people choose goals that are far from their reach or require smaller goals to achieve the main goal.
“Start with very small steps,” says Dr. Lina Shihabuddin, a psychiatrist and medical director at RWJ Barnabas Health in West Orange, NJ. Setting interim goals that divide your larger goal into digestible steps minimizes the sense of failure that can lead to giving up when your central goal is too unattainable directly from the door.
The other great fall of most resolution maintenance is the inability to correctly verbalize our objectives. Experts suggest being specific to help you commit to your precise goal, rather than the idea of your goal. For example, saying that you want to “quit smoking” is not as effective as declaring that you will reduce your daily consumption of cigarettes by one per week until you have quit smoking.
This year, your first resolution should be to set reasonable goals for you in the next 365 days. Second, elaborate your small and specific goals to improve your life. I need help? Choose some achievable resolutions from our list below.
Learn a new skill: go to the library and find a book about a skill that has always interested you. Plan a project a month or so to demonstrate that skill. If you have a budget, visit sites like Groupon to get discounts on classes.
Read more: Grant yourself a reading goal like a book or two per month and record your progress on sites like Good reads for responsibility.
Procrastinate less: Use lists to keep track of tasks you have to do and set due dates as you would with a project at work. If the task is large, divide it into smaller tasks to eliminate it.
Travel more: make a list of the destinations you dream of going to and do a surface-level dive of how much each one would cost. Take a look at your budget and see how much you should save to make it happen. The first step will be to save the funds; the second part will reserve the trip.
Grow your savings: have an objective in mind for your savings and propose methods to achieve it. Experts suggest saving the equivalent of three months of salary as their first savings goal. Try using applications like Capital to help you get there.
Volunteer Plus: First, take a look at your calendar and see how much of your free time you could commit to a nonprofit organization on a consistent basis. That window of time is now your goal! Look for causes near you or find specific needs in your area at Volunteer Match.
Eat healthier: the way we eat is a regular process, so changing these habits takes time. Choose progressive goals, such as reducing the amount you eat once a week or once a month. In the future, do not buy anything in the grocery store with ingredients you can not pronounce to help you eat cleaner.
Improve your exercise routine: This is quite common for most people, but try not to assign a weight goal to your physical state. Instead, commit to adding extra time at the gym (for example, exercise for 30 minutes four times a week, not three times a week) or sign up for a new fitness program that really motivates you like a Sumba or HIIT. In this way, your commitments are tailored to the way you prefer to work and losing weight is an added benefit.
Improve your sleep patterns: try to lie down 5 minutes before each week until you lie down 30 minutes before your normal time. It is not necessary that you go to sleep immediately; choose a friendly activity to sleep. Take a guided meditation in the Calm app or read a book. Your body will begin to fall into its sleep cycle more smoothly and you will rest more easily.
Start writing a journal: most people give up writing their thoughts because they are trivial or they think it’s too hard to explain. The newspaper does not have to be directed to an audience, it’s for you! The important part here is simply to start writing every day. It does not have to have a minimum, a paragraph is enough, as long as you convert the habit into a daily and rapid reflection. The impulse will grow over time.
Excel in your career: this goal can be very different for each person due to the number of occupations. Is it a promotion? Are you taking on more responsibility? Is it an increase? Define what the next level of your career looks like and plan what will get you there. If you are not sure, take the time to sit down with your boss and find out.