New Year’s resolutions are often viewed with mixed enthusiasm, simply because people make so many grand intentions which frequently fall through. The old adage of the importance of habit regularly comes into play here. Yet, with this mind, what can one do to stay motivated enough to follow through with a new year’s resolution? One tip is to make it rewarding – immediately! If you add a bit of fun and interest to a new routine, the effort is less task and more enjoyment.

Here, we explore helpful ways to ensure that you keep up with your resolutions throughout the year.

Resolutions 2018 calendar

1.  Create short-term milestones.

One large year-end goal can often seem overwhelming, if not impossible. Forbes contributor and Senior Financial Planner, Nancy L. Anderson recommends breaking resolutions down into smaller monthly goals. Decreasing the amount of time you have to reach a less monumental goal can help make your plans more attainable in the long run. For example, if you’re considering a career change, start by simply reassessing your resume and making a list of your most valuable skills rather than jumping into your job search feet first and expecting results right away.

2.  Document and share your goals.

“Consider keeping a journal with your goals for [the year] and reviewing them weekly”, says Anderson. She suggests incorporating the support of friends and/or colleagues by sharing your plans, asking for feedback, and even checking in on occasion to reveal your progress. Letting a trusted individual in on your plans can help you stay motivated. Having someone to “answer to” often improves how seriously we take our own goals.

3.  Build a sense of energy.

Momentum is crucial when it comes to succeeding at your new year’s resolution. Anderson offers the example of saving for retirement. If you know you’re behind in your savings, but are only able to contribute small amounts, don’t wait until the larger funds become available. She recommends instead, beginning right away with the smaller contributions to create a sense of impetus in the here and now. You can always add more if and when circumstances change.

4.  Choose your silver bullet.

Take a moment to discover the most important and impactful action you can take this month to help you reach your goal. Ask yourself what you could achieve that would drastically affect outcome of your plan; then concentrate your time and effort specifically on this facet of your goal. This could include anything from building a better network to gaining an imperative skill, or even meeting with an advisor or other professional within the appropriate domain.

5.  Implement your own consequences.

While in theory, the concept of behavior modification makes perfect sense, putting it into action can be quite challenging. In order to avoid falling back into old habits, Anderson suggests “[lighting] a fire under your goals to make yourself accountable for what you really want to accomplish”. For those tasks you fall short on, you may even consider attaching your own (reasonably) negative consequences.  For those unwilling to go that route, rewards such as a favorite meal or evening out with friends can provide a positive incentive toward completing difficult tasks.

6.  Set reminders.

As the months wear on and life’s responsibilities and complexities set in, the resolutions we set forth to fulfill often take a backseat. However, making use of technology can help keep us on track. Anderson recommends, “[using] the calendar on your Smartphone or work computer [and setting] a recurring reminder or appointment to review your progress toward your goal”. Some may even choose to set up a private Facebook group, create a goal sheet on a program like Google Docs, or make use of a reminder app such as Evernote or BZ Reminder. By setting up your own cues, you are automatically prioritizing your resolutions and increasing your chances of realizing your personal goals.

Resolutions - Plan squares graphic

In Summary

Keep in mind that the start of a new year is a perfect time to clear the slate and make room for a more promising future. However, recognizing your hopes and dreams is only the first step. It takes commitment and dedication to truly implement your yearly plans.

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