New Year's resolutions

We all start the New Year with the best intentions. But come May (OK, let’s be real, by February) those goals are forgotten. Life happens and other things come up. But if you are seriously determined to accomplish your resolutions — truly, really! — here’s how to get it done.

Related: Elizabeth Gilbert: Five tips for living a more creative life

Mistake 1: Not writing it down

It may seem cheesy, but the simple act of writing down your resolutions actually works, at least according to a study done at Dominican University. Students who wrote down their goals accomplished them more than their counterparts who didn’t by a long shot. Put your written-down resolution somewhere that you will see it often. That way, it will stay front-of-mind year round.


Related: 3 small changes that will make over your entire life

Mistake 2: Keeping it a secret

Sharing your New Year’s resolution is intimidating because you become accountable to someone — but that’s exactly how a dream gets turned into a reality. You’ll be more likely to see your resolution through when you know someone will be checking in and asking how it’s coming along.

Mistake 3: Only visualizing the end goal

While it’s important to keep the big picture in mind, you also have to know how you’re going to get there. According to Psychology Today, studies performed at both Harvard University and the University of Southern California found that a key practice into accomplishing a long-term goal was setting smaller, daily habits. Accomplishing these daily tasks gives a pleasurable dopamine rush and also sets the groundwork for bigger goals.

Mistake 4: Not making the time

Part of making a resolution plan is figuring out how you can carve out the time to make it happen. Most people don’t have spare time in their schedule, so often it means giving up something else. Wanting to write a novel, for example, might mean getting up an hour early every day to write. Literally inputting into your schedule the time you are going to regularly designate to seeing your resolution through will make it a priority.

Mistake 5: Not celebrating the small victories

Harvard professor Shawn Achor stresses the importance of patting yourself on the back every so often in his book, “The Happiness Advantage.” During his 12 years of research, he found that appreciating small, incremental changes related to the overall goal is what keeps goal setters happy and on track. If you aren’t happy trying to reach your goal, chances are you’ll give up. Stop and celebrate the small victories along the way. You deserve it.

Follow Emily on Twitter: @EmLaurence

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