- Use productive language
First of all, stop calling it a “resolution.” If it’s true that only eight percent keep theirs, it means the other 92 percent feel they failed. So that means the word has likely taken on a negative connotation—and that could also be the reason for some failures. Instead, choose a more positive word like “goal” or “plan.”
- Be positive.
Don’t choose a goal that includes negative words like “quit” or “stop,” and don’t use absolutes like “never” or “always.” Instead of proclaiming that your resolution is to “quit smoking forever,” for example, try something like “My goal is to find ways to lead a healthier lifestyle, and that includes eventually eliminating cigarettes.”
- Be specific.
Try not to make your plan too broad or too unrealistic, or you’re increasing the chances that you won’t be able to meet the challenge. So for instance, instead of saying “My resolution is to lose 50 pounds,” try something a little more specific, like “My goal is to lose at least five pounds in the first month.” If you want to cut out sugar, don’t say, “My resolution is to stop eating sweets”; say something like, “My plan is to cut my sugar intake by at least half in the first month.”
- Take baby steps.
Break a larger goal down into smaller steps that are easier to meet. Don’t just say, “I want to save money”; outline how you want to save money. Formulate a solid plan, like investigating ways to cut household bills first, then having a percentage of your paycheck automatically sent to a savings account, then calling your insurance agent to review all possible discounts. Once you achieve a small goal along your journey, you’re more likely to set another, and another, and so on, until you end up meeting the larger goal anyway.
- Tell your friends and family.
Repeat your goals aloud in front of others and you’re more likely to stick to them, because you’ll feel accountable. Surround yourself with people who will encourage you with “How’s your plan going?” and “Good job” rather than disheartening comments like, “What? How could you have eaten that candy bar?!”