I like to make new years resolutions. I've done it for the past several years. And I like to think of myself as a pretty dedicated person when I'm trying to be. Yet, more frequently than I'd like to admit, I fail to complete my resolutions. Don't get me wrong, I do a pretty good job completing them, but there are usually a few that slip by me.
So I've put some thought into what causes me to fail my resolutions, and what I can do to avoid it. Thus, I present to you tonight: Tips for keeping new years resolutions.
Write them down
This is not my original idea, but it is a good one. Writing your resolutions down forces you to acknowledge that you have actually resolved to complete them. If you don't write them down, the line between considering a resolution and having actually made a resolution becomes hazy, and you may get to February and decide you didn't officially make that resolution after all. Writing them down leaves no question. Some people choose to share the list with their friends or family for accountability. That step is not for everyone, but if you're comfortable with it and your resolutions aren't too personal, sharing the list may help. I'm a firm believe, however, that resolutions should only be shared if doing so will increase the likelihood of completing them. If you don't want to share them, don't share them. But still write them down.
Don't allow them to be gradually failed
As I said, I think of myself as a fairly determined person, so I find it incredibly difficult to make a conscious decision to give up on a resolution. Resolutions such as, "do pushups every day", I almost always complete because on no given day am I willing to give up. On the other hand, resolutions like, "run 2000km this year", I often struggle with. The reason is that on January first, I can honestly say that not running today will not have a significant effect on my total at the end of the year. The problem is that I can say that on January second too. And the more you put off the next tiny step, the more steps you have to make later in the year. Too often, I do a status check on this kind of resolution in July and find that what started out as a reasonable average daily run will now be a fairly long run every day. These kinds of resolutions that can be failed gradually are the most dangerous, because they never involve a conscious giving up to fail. My new solution is to break these resolutions into sub resolutions such as monthly or weekly subgoals.
Make Progress on January First
It is more critical to make progress on your resolutions on January first than on any other individual day. If it is absolutely out of the question to do so, then make progress on the second, or the earliest possible time. Do not allow yourself to begin gradually putting the resolution off. The sooner you begin making progress, the sooner you will feel "pot committed" to your resolution. So it is very important to make progress early and often. But, with that in mind, don't forget that...
October is the Hardest Month
This one applies mostly to the do-(or don't do)-such-and-such-every-day style resolutions. While days and weeks of progress feel very encouraging at the beginning, a year is a long time. I often find that by the time October rolls around, I'm just tired of the resolution. Occasionally the voice of weakness crops up and tells me that making it to October clearly shows that I can make it all year, and that I should stop punishing myself. Know that this will happen and be prepared to overcome it. Your resolution wasn't to do such and such every day until October, it was to go all year. You can make it through the month. Don't give in now.
I'm definitely still not perfect at keeping my resolutions, but I think I'm striving to get better all the time. Maybe those tips will help someone. And tell me your tricks for keeping your resolutions in the comments.