It’s that time of year when people are thinking about new year’s resolutions. What will be this year? Losing weight? Quit smoking? Go back to school? Manage or save more money? What was it last year? What will be this year? Losing weight? Quit smoking? Go back to school? Manage or save more money? See a pattern here?

I’ve seen most resolutions come and go unfulfilled. I used to wonder why. Perhaps people aimed to high and their resolutions were too difficult to accomplish. Maybe people forgot their resolutions. Maybe people made to many resolutions and couldn’t get to all of them.

Perhaps the winter time is the wrong time to make resolutions. Or maybe people are simply too lazy. The more I thought about it, the more I realized that it’s actually all of the above. People set goals that are too high and too many of them at the same time. They do everything to set themselves up for failure.

But this has got to stop! This year will be different. You will shed those pounds or stop smoking or save money for your trip to the Caymans. Whatever you want to do this year, you’ll be more successful than you have been in the past. You just have to be smarter this year.

So here’re some tips on how to have successful new year’s resolutions:

Specific Baby Steps

No more resolutions such as ‘lose weight’ or ‘stop smoking’. We’re going to get more specific. When people make general resolutions it’s like going to Japan to sight-see and then end up sleeping in the hotel room the entire trip.

You sleep through the trip because you never looked up the sights or even got a map of Japan. There’s no plan and this lack of a plan reduces your motivation to do anything and likely leaves you stagnant.

Let’s take the ‘lose weight’ resolution for instance. How are you going to do it? Are you going to go to the gym 3 times a week? Eat a salad with every meal? Take up salsa dancing on Monday nights?

When you make a specific resolution that’s a baby step towards a larger goal, you’ll be more likely to keep that resolution. So instead of ‘saving more money’ your resolution should be more like ‘put an extra $10 in my savings account every week’. Instead of ‘going back to school’ your resolution should be ‘take Anatomy 101 at the local community college’.

This may seem like small potatoes in the grand scheme of your goals, but once you accomplish the first step you’ll have the momentum to take the next step, then the next step. Before you know it, you’ll snowball into meeting your larger goals.

Minimize and be flexible

When making your list, do it like you’re grocery shopping on a budget. You only put things on your list you think you can afford. A lot of times things don’t go exactly according to plan when you get to the store. They might not have some of the items on your list.

Some items may be more expensive than you thought. You simply remove them from the list and find alternatives if you need to. Or things may be cheaper than you expected and you can afford to add more items or get a more expensive item than one on your list.

Your resolutions should work the same way. Keep your list simple. If you overload the list, you might be so overwhelmed you won’t do anything. It’s okay to only have one thing on your list. You can always add things later in the year.

If one of your goals is to go to the gym twice a week and you realize you can fit in one more day, do it! If your goal is to do two days and your schedule doesn’t allow the two days, switch to one day. It’s okay to upgrade and okay to downgrade.

Tell everybody and their mama

When you keep your resolutions to yourself you’re at a disadvantage because you’re not using your network of friends and family to keep you motivated. When you tell other people about your goals for the year this will give you a tremendous amount of support. First it will hold you accountable to other people.

If you stop going to the gym and no one notices, that’s the end of that. But if people know you made a promise to go to the gym, they’ll ask you about it, which will remind you and keep you on track.

You might get annoyed, but that annoyance will keep you motivated. Second, you’ll find other people with similar goals and you’ll be able to work together and accomplish your goals as a team.

Having a buddy when you’re doing almost anything will give you that extra nudge to keep you on track or even someone to talk to when you go off track.

If you use this tips you’ll likely be more successful this year than you were in years passed. It’s ultimately up to you. My hope is that you’ll be better this year; not necessarily by leaps and bounds.

A little better is all you need because it adds up at the end of the day or, in our case, the end of the year.

Until next time, cheers to a better you!

In case you were wondering, here’s my list:

1. Go to the gym 3 days a week

2. Eat 4 raw meals a week

3. Get 6 massages this year

4. Get 2 facials this year

5. Take up kick boxing for the summer at TS

6. Pay an extra $200 towards my monthly VISA bill

7. Take Chemistry, Physics and Psychology at the local college in the fall

I’m curious to know what your lists are.

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