Last year I announced some initial results from a Quirkology experiment into New Year’s Resolutions. We tracked more than 5000 people as they tried to achieve their aims and ambitions, and found big sex differences for the strategies that proved successful. Here is some advice based on the work, hope that you find it helpful….
Set S.M.A.R.T goals
– Focus on creating goals that are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Time based (SMART). For example, instead of thinking ‘I want to find a new job’, focus on creating bite-sized, measurable goals for each week, such as rewriting your CV and then applying for one new job every two weeks. Map out the step-by-step mini-goals that will slowly but surely take you to where you want to be, make a note of them in a diary, and stick to the plan.
Carrot not stick
– Focus on how much better life will be for you, and those around you, when you achieve your resolution. For example, if you want to quit smoking, make a list of the benefits of giving up, and place it somewhere prominent in your house. If you want to motivate yourself to go to the gym, find a photograph of a fitness model that appeals to you, and put it in a place that ensures you will see it each day.
– Many people keep their New Year’s Resolution to themselves. Unfortunately, this makes it all too easy to simply forget about them. Instead, go public. For example, write down your resolution on a large sheet of paper, sign it, and place it somewhere prominent in your house. Tell your friends, family and colleagues about your resolution, and ask them to provide you with helpful nudges to assist you in achieving your goal. Either way, do not keep your resolution to yourself.
– New habits take time to learn, and once in a while you will slip up and revert to the old you. People on diets might suddenly give in to temptation, or those trying to exercise more might not find the time to go to the gym for a week. Remember that everyone messes up from time to time. Don’t blame yourself if you falter, or allow the experience to make you give up.