It sometimes seems like New Year's resolutions are made just to be broken. After all, a recent study from the University of Scranton found that the success rate of New Year's resolutions is only 19% percent.
So what causes people to fall off the bandwagon? A lot of things, but here are some tips to help make this year's goal a lasting change in your life.
1. Be super specific.
This is extremely important. A recent survey found that the most popular New Year's resolutions are living life to the fullest, living a healthier lifestyle and losing weight. While these are admirable goals, there's just one problem: They're extremely vague, which means that it's hard for you to figure out how you're actually going to make these things happen. How much weight do you want to lose? How do you want to live life to the fullest—travel, or spend more time with your family? Picking a definitive goal makes it easier for you to stay on track.
2. Make an actual actionable plan.
It's easy to duck out of something later if you don't make a specific plan, or "road map," for how you will work up to this goal. "Exercise more" can mean anything. Instead, say you'll attend a certain class at a certain time on Tuesday and Thursday every week. Check in a couple months later to see if you want to adjust this goal.
3. Choose something that means a lot to you.
This might seem self explanatory, but pick a resolution that you actually want to do—not something that you feel like you should do. Write down why you have this goal, listing the benefits you'll gain in your life from doing it, and also the negatives that have happened because you haven't reached this goal.
4. Technology is your BFF.
Don't hesitate to use apps and technology to make it easier to stay on track. There are countless fitness apps and finance apps that will do most of the work for you, at least in terms of organization.
5. Find an accountability buddy.
Everyone has those low days when you feel like giving up. Choose a person in your life who believes in you to act as a cheerleader, providing much-needed motivation while you strive for your goal.
6. Be prepared to give some things up to achieve your goal.
Remember that "losing weight" doesn't just involve eating healthier and exercising more. It also involves time and energy that you no longer can devote to watching that extra hour of TV or going out at night. Be prepared to give up certain things in your life for a goal that is well worth it.
7. Remember to forgive yourself.
A big reason why people give up on their resolution is because it's human nature to mess up now and then. For example, if you are a smoker, it's almost impossible to quit cold turkey. If you fall of the bandwagon, forgive yourself, then get right back up and try again.
8. Join forces with a friend who shares your goals.
It's a lot easier to stick to something if you have a source of constant motivation. Plan to take a fitness class or work out a few times a week with your buddy, or agree to cook dinner at home instead of eating takeout with your partner.
9. Make a concrete time frame - and a schedule!
Rome wasn't built in a day, and most resolutions will take time and effort to achieve. Devising a specific time frame, and a schedule to follow, can help you better visualize how to eventually reach your goal. If you want to cut out TV during dinnertime, pick a date you want your family to completely stop watching TV during dinner, then create a few milestones along the way to help you reach this goal.
10. Don't cut something out without adding something else in.
One of the hardest things about most New Year's resolutions is that you might feel like you are giving something up. Make it a more positive experience by also choosing to add something positive into your life. Maybe you've always wanted to take tango dancing lessons or wanted to learn how to cook traditional Chinese cuisine—go for it. Giving yourself something new and positive to focus on will make it easier to say goodbye to old habits.