The Happiness Blog’s Guide to Making (and Keeping!) New Year’s Resolutions, Part I

Of the 45% of Americans who usually make New Year’s Resolutions (38% never do), 8% achieve their resolution, 49% have infrequent success, and 24% fail every year (Norcross, Mrykalo and Blagys (2002). Are these gloomy statistics because Americans are inherently lazy and distractible and just want to sit around watching TV and eating Fritos? No. It’s because we go about setting resolutions all wrong and shoot ourselves in the foot before we can start the race.

First, let’s acknowledge that with resolutions we are striving to become a better person. Yay! But the thrilling thought that with the turn of a calendar page we can be exactly who we want to be is unrealistic. Boo! Since I want to help you be happier in 2015, here are some tips on sticking to your New Year’s resolution.

First, you have to believe you can do it. Next, have a clear, positive goal (“Lose 50 lbs” rather than “Don’t be fat”) and a clear plan. Schedule it on your planner or link it to some other habit you already have and set reminders to do it if you won’t remember. Make it public so people can support you and keep you accountable. Celebrate small successes and anticipate imperfection. And my number one suggestion for crafting a good resolution: make it achievable.

I know, I know. That sounds really boring and who wants to start a new year with a boring goal? But setting an achievable goal means you’re less likely to become overwhelmed and give up on it by February which is what happens to at least half of us. You’ll be ringing in 2016 closer to the person you want to become. If that doesn’t make for a happy new year, I don’t know what does.

Next week: New Year’s Resolutions Part II