Staying on track with New Year’s resolutions

Mady Zirlin and Ellie Walden

Though many people make resolutions at the start of the new year, few follow through with their goals. Below are four tips to stay on track with New Year’s resolutions provided by Mark Vander Weg, professor of community and behavioral health at the University of Iowa. 

Be specific and realistic

Make specific, concrete plans to achieve resolutions. For example, instead of saying, “I want to work out three times a week,” say, “I will walk on the treadmill for 30 minutes every day after school.” This allows people to focus directly on the specific resolution and stay away from abstract goals, which cannot be realistically controlled by the person who made them. Staying away from abstract goals will make the resolution easier to be achieved.

Share your goals with others

People may not share their goals with others out of fear of judgment if they fail, but they are more likely to follow through with their goals when they share their goals with peers. This is because there is more motivation to stick to the goal in order to not let peers down. Encouragement and support from friends and family are also helpful. 

Reward yourself along the way

Divide the ultimate goal into manageable, smaller goals. Then, plan out rewards after accomplishing the smaller goals. For example, if the resolution is to procrastinate less on homework, each time an assignment is completed soon after it is assigned, acknowledge this accomplishment with a delicious treat on the last day of the week. A personal reward can make it easier to reach these goals. It can also help people stay motivated to carry through with their resolutions. 

Do not be too hard on yourself

Resolutions are commonly broken. Many failed resolutions stem from accidental slip-ups. After making a mistake, many people tend to give up on their goals. A slip-up does not mean the goal should be abandoned. It is important to remember there will always be stumbling blocks along the way. A bad day is not a reason to give up. It should be a push to get back on track.