How to Set an Effective New Years Resolution

As the holiday season draws to a close, and the last of the trimmings have been stored away, most people turn toward the coming year with a resolve to change something for the better. Whatever your age or stage in life, setting goals for self-improvement is a great way to refocus and get a fresh perspective for the new year.

Why is it, then, that so many people—as much as 92 percent of Americans—have all but forgotten their goals come February? Experts say that there is actually a method to finding a New Year’s resolution you can stick to.

Make it positive and enjoyable.

If you’re already dreading it before you start, you’re going to drop that resolution fast. Find something you will look forward to, or at least plan it in an enjoyable way. If you’ve resolved to be more physically active, choose an enjoyable exercise routine or do it with a friend. If you plan to organize your old papers and documents, plan a time of day to work on it, and reward yourself afterward.

Write it down.

Writing down your resolution will help you think it through clearly and plan for strategies for when the going gets tough. While you’ll probably be feeling eager to consume only carrot sticks and green beans for the first week of January, what will happen when that craving for sweets hits?

Get support.

There’s nothing like company when it comes to the journey to reach your goals. Get a friend or family member on board to help you stay focused and motivated.

Pick something small, concrete and doable.

This is probably the biggest factor in the goals that are achieved and the ones that are left to gather dust with the New Year’s party blowers. Don’t paint your resolution in broad terms; break it down into concrete, bite-sized chunks. Want to start eating more healthfully? Plan two ways that you’ll incorporate additional healthy foods into your diet. Dreaming of decluttering your home? Choose one room—or even part of a room!—and designate a specific time for it.

That said, here are six realistic goals that can be your springboard toward an accomplishing 2019:

  • Update legal documents. You never know when you’ll need them, and when you do, it’s usually too late. Draw up your will if you haven’t done so yet, and make sure your living will and power of attorney documents are in order.
  • Choose one area to improve in health. This is a biggie. Good nutrition, healthy sleeping habits, and regular exercise are vital in keeping your body fit for many more years to come. Don’t aim to work on all at once—pick one doable improvement, such as resolving to eat more veggies, and stick to it.
  • Learn something new about technology. One of the best ways to stay young is to keep up with the world around you. What better way than by learning about a useful technology? Skype and social media are great ways to keep in touch with friends and family, and learning new things has been proven to improve cognitive health.
  • Go for a physical. Checkups are ever more important as the body ages. Your doctor will be able to detect small problems before they develop into full-blown crises, and can also assist you in helping to maintain your good health.
  • Have that tough conversation you’ve been pushing off. There’s no time like the present! The start of the new year is the perfect time for a discussion about the future. Talk to your family members about plans for your future needs and care.