I love making new year’s resolutions. And not to toot my own horn, but I’ve a record or succeeding at most of them every year. Because I’ve studied the theory, and put it into practice. So, here are actions to make good new year’s resolutions and stick to them every year.
1. Set Small Goals, Not Massive Ones
This year, my colleagues & I shared their resolutions. Mine were drastically different to theirs. Take a look:
|Others’ Resolutions||My Resolutions|
|Buy a house, move out||Read 4 books, 1 each quarter. Also 6 audiobooks|
|Travel the world||Attend a sailing course|
|Get a better paid job||Work on my website. 1 post per week, steady viewer growth|
|Get a girlfriend||Go to gym. Be able to bench 60kgs by end of year|
|Get a dog||Sober 2021|
|Phone screen down to 90 mins/day|
|Cut dairy down to a minimum|
|Enjoy the little things, like herbal tea.|
Pretty different huh? Theirs are so much bigger! They want to basically upgrade every aspect of their lives. New pet, new partner, new house, new job, and so on. Whereas mine are so tiny – less time on the phone screen? It just seems so lame.
Here’s the thing: those colleagues’ resolutions are the same as last year’s, because they never get accomplished. Whereas I tick off mine each year and go further by creating new resolutions.
Notice that I’ve no resolutions about travel or extreme sports? That’s because I’ve already succeeded at those in previous years. That’s part of my lifestyle now, so there’s no need to repeat them.
My goals are small. Less time on the phone? It’s hardly a new house. But I know that those small resolutions will lead to a happier, more productive life. It’ll give me more time. And less time unhappy on social media. And that’s so valuable. Enjoy herbal tea? Because you all know that I enjoy the huge, dangerous stunts. And this year I’ve learnt to savour simple pleasures too. And by maintaining a balance of both, I’ll be even happier.
The problem with generic resolutions
Those sweeping, colossal resolutions have 2 main problems:
- They aren’t SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, & time-bound).
- They aren’t broken into smaller goals.
Big goals are fine, but they must be broken into smaller steps. See Why Habits Are So Important for how to do that.
2. Make Them Tangible
In contast, my resolutions are SMART. They are specific, and have a tangible end-point when I know I’ve reached success.
3. Reflect on Them after Every Day
I use an app like Rewire to tick or cross whether I succeeded at each habit each day. That way, I can see if I’m trending in the right direction.
As a rule of thumb, it takes a month to form a habit, and 3 months to form a lifestyle.
4. Check Back on Them Throughout the Year
I always save my list of resolutions to my notes app, and review it halfway through the year. Circumstances may have changed, priorities may have shifted, so I take time at the end of June to realign my resolutions to my goals.
5. Review at the End of the Year
Repeat the Whole Process Again! Either tick off your successful resolutions, remove them if not important anymore, or paste them into the new year’s list of resolutions to have another go.
Separate your resolutions into categories that are important to you. I use: personal, learning, work, social, health. Here’s an example list:
- Spend more time with family by doing X
- Complete Y course
- Read 4 books, 1 per quarter
- Listen to 6 audiobooks while commuting
- Apply to new job internally and 3 external jobs
- Start collecting evidence
- Sign up to a dance club
- Go to a concert on my own
- Drink 6 glasses of water per day
- Phone screen down to 90 mins per day
- Attend parkrun