I love New Year’s resolutions. I make a whole list of them every year simply to watch myself slowly fail until I’m disappointed in the person I’ve become. Let’s face it, at some point we’ve all gone out and got the gym membership January 1 just to be right back on the couch come Valentine’s Day. But over time I’ve learned a few tricks that help me make those small life improvements that make me happier, healthier, and even a little wiser.
1. Set a Measurable Goal – It’s one thing to say “I’m going to get in shape” and it’s entirely another to say “I’m going to lose 20 pounds of fat”. Make your goal something you can quantify so you can see real progress. That way when it gets tough, all you have to do is look over your shoulder at how far you’ve come and you don’t want to go back.
2. Be Accountable to Someone – No matter what your resolution, you’re odds of success decrease drastically without another person you’re letting down with your return to slothfulness. Get a work out buddy, personal trainer, book club, or guitar instructor. Anyone who will call you up and call you out when you skip that first meeting for quilting class to watch reruns of Hoarders.
3. Keep it Simple – There’s a reason why you haven’t done that thing you’ve resolved to do before. And with rare exception, none of us are going from couch potato to Iron Man in less than 12 months. Set simple goals at first. As you accomplish them and make them habit, you can increase them.
4. Break it Up Into Segments – Businesses do this all the time. They set an annual goal with monthly and/or quarterly goals. This will give you reason to celebrate and also help keep you procrastinating. Otherwise that reading list won’t have a dent in it come Thanksgiving.
5. Balance Work and Fun – If we all exercised every day, read a pile of books, learned to play guitar, and achieved professional success this year the world would probably be a lot more boring. Add fun changes like time with friends (outside of Facebook) or going to the theater (the one with a stage and people on it). You’ll enjoy accomplishing those resolutions and in return motivate yourself to check off some of the more tedious portions of your list.