New Year's Resolutions: 5 Ways to Make Them Stick

By Barbara Pronin

Join the crowd if you’ve made a New Year’s Resolution to lose weight, get organized, or climb up the corporate ladder – or to achieve any goal you deem important. But don’t feel bad if, like many, you turn the calendar page to February with a sinking feeling your resolution is headed for the scrap heap.

“The problem for so many,” says Florida behavioral therapist Jenna Wilson, “is that we do not make our goals reasonable or specific enough.”

Wilson provides five practical tips for making – and – keeping – those worthwhile improvements in your life:

  1. Don’t aim too high – Losing 10 pounds is a reasonable goal. Losing 40 pounds may not be doable without some sort of professional intervention. Keeping your goals small and simple is the most surefire way to succeed – and reaching a moderate goal may give you the confidence to maintain your resolution longer.
  2. Define your goals – If you resolve to advance in your job, write down specific steps you will take to achieve the goal: take a class in a subject you need to master…volunteer to take on a new project. If your goal is to improve family relationships, start with a plan to converse more regularly with all the members of your family, or schedule a weekly family game night.
  3. Set a schedule – Determine to ‘lose five pounds by mid-February’ or ‘find a new job in six months.’ Attempting to reach your goals too soon may be setting yourself up for failure. If your schedule involves daily or weekly tasks – like exercising or going back to school – set specific times and days of the week when they will happen.
  4. Don’t be upset by setbacks – We are all human. We make mistakes. We sometimes give in to weakness. But gaining back two pounds after a weekend of self-indulgence is only a temporary setback. Resolve that a setback will not deter you from starting over again.
  5. Ask for support – It may be too difficult to stop smoking or exercise on a regular basis alone, or improve your financial position without professional guidance. Asking for help from a friend, a family member, or a career professional can be the best way to achieve your goals.