How To Actually Keep Your New Year's Resolutions

by Danny Cullen

2017 is upon us, and that means it’s time to examine those New Year’s resolutions from last year ... and to sort out a new list of things you’d like to accomplish this year.

Chances are you missed some of your lofty goals from last year, and that’s okay. New year, new you: Whatever you wanted to accomplish and were unable to, you can recommit to this year. But what's the most effective way to do it? Some scientists think they've cracked the code on how:

3 Science-Backed Rules For Achievement In The New Year

Psychologists at the British Psychological Society think they know the simplest ways to achieve sucess this year. The researchers studied 60 students that were trying to achieve a goal. In order to do so, they required that the students maintain a diary, in which they wrote down their attempts to accomplish their goals.  The researchers then looked at what the subjects accomplished, analyzed their methods to get there, and cross-compared the results and the techniques that the students used.

They found that three specific habits had an absolutely massive impact on the students and their attempts to accomplish fitness-based goals.

1. Reflect On The Process

If the student looked back on their diary of attempting to nail a goal, it caused them to identify what worked and did not in their process. This allowed the subjects to analyze their journey, discard the things that weren’t working and strengthen the areas that did. By reflecting on what they’d written down, they were able to find the strategy that worked for them.

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2. Build a Support System

Second, those who were held accountable and had a system of feedback through a support group, expert, friends or family, had more success than those that didn’t. Sometimes goals can be isolating and lonely —it feels like you against the world. Having an outlet to express frustrations and receive advice meant that the students were able to improve.

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3. Break Your Big Goals Down Into Mini-Goals

Finally, the researchers found that mini-goals (smaller goals made to lead up to the larger goal) were hugely successful in getting the students to the Promised Land. In other words, by setting smaller objectives and accomplishing those, they took a step-by-step approach to achievement.

The diaries in particular were especially helpful in motivating the students, the researchers found. That is perhaps the first step, because without recording the data, there is nothing to analyze as you move forward. 

The takeaway for you? No matter your goal, write your journey down, analyze what’s good and what’s bad, and fix the problems. Create a network of support to help you along your way. Break up your goals into smaller, more achievable chunks to help you get to the end. Good luck!

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