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“New Year, New Me!” Do New Year’s Resolutions ACTUALLY Work? The Experts Respond…

Here are my practical tips not only to help you define your goals, but also create a strategy to achieve them, too. Just remember that now is as good a time as any..

  • ​Aim high, but keep it achievable. If you want to run a marathon, but you have a knee injury and only two hours a week to dedicate to training, perhaps it would be most appropriate to focus first on rehabilitation;
  • ​Your goals will need to be realistic in terms of their timeframes. Really take the time to think through how long they will take to achieve, and how much time you have available to work on them. How much time does this equate to weekly or monthly?
  • Research from well-known TED Talker Dan Ariely shows that ​self-imposed deadlines are effective in improving task performance, although deadlines set by third parties were even more effective. Set yourself a deadline, and stick to it. Better still - have someone who understands the task set a deadline for you. This kind of accountability will really keep you on track;
  • ​Other ways to hold yourself accountable could include undertaking your goal with a friend, or at least letting someone know what you're planning to do. This will bring your idea out into the real world and make it feel that bit more tangible;
NY Resolutions

  • Don't just set the goal, plan to achieve it too. Set out a timeline and a list of micro-tasks that you'll need to complete in order to reach your goal. Think carefully about the time, resources, and logistics involved.
  • ​Recognise your hard work by rewarding yourself when you reach milestones. Beware of using food for this, though - you're not a dog! A schoolteacher friend of mine used to reward herself in the same way she did her students: by giving herself a little star on a poster for each task she completed. After a certain number of stars, she would treat herself to a pedicure, massage, or other small gift.
  • ​Try to maintain a sense of perspective. When you inevitably get caught up in the little stuff, find a way to pull yourself back. There are plenty of techniques to help you with this, including meditation practises, setting reminders in your diary, or keeping an aide-memoire such as a poster up in your home or workplace to keep you focussed on the bigger picture.
NY Resolutions

Take-home message:

Don't save a fresh start for a new year. You can clean the slate whenever you make the decision to do so.

Sources:

http://psycnet.apa.org/journals/bul/90/1/125/

http://wolfweb.unr.edu

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