Making a New Year’s Resolution You Can Keep

With only a few days left in 2010, it’s time to make your New Year’s resolution! After all the fun and indulgence of the holiday season, many of us are inclined to think of so many resolutions, including ones that are often overly ambitious. According to USA.gov, here are ten of the most popular New Year’s resolutions Americans make each year:

  1. Drink less alcohol
  2. Get a better education
  3. Get a better job
  4. Get fit
  5. Lose weight
  6. Manage debt
  7. Manage stress
  8. Quit smoking
  9. Save money
  10. Volunteer to help others

These are noble ideas, indeed, but why does it seem like these resolutions are the same issues that trouble Americans year after year? According to Maia Szalavitz of Time Magazine, 48% of Americans will make New Year’s resolutions for 2010.  Of those 48%, about 65% will keep the resolution for part of the year, and of that 65%, 35% won’t even keep the resolution for any length of time.

The above popular resolutions are great ideas, but if you’re trying to accomplish something, it’s important to be both realistic and specific, exercise self-control in provocative situations, and surround yourself with family and friends who support you.

If you’re trying to lose weight, get in shape, or both, be reasonable with yourself. Most health professionals say that it’s safe to lose one to two pounds per week, so if there are 52 weeks per year, trying to lose more than 100 pounds is probably not realistic or safe for most people. You also increase your chances of success if you set smaller goals within your larger goal. For example, if you’re deciding to get in shape or lose weight, your first step might be making a doctor’s appointment to find out how much weight you should lose or what fitness level is safe for you. After that, you might set a weight loss goal per month to carry yourself through the year on smaller, more reasonable, accomplishments.

PicIf you’re trying to better yourself in another way, through a better education, volunteering, or managing your finances, taking the first step might be the most difficult. Before you set out to achieve your resolution, do some research and create a plan that outlines your steps to success. If you’re trying to get a better education, have a meeting with an admissions officer at a nearby school to figure out what requirements you’ve already fulfilled to be eligible for a higher degree and what the application process involves. If you’re trying to better manage or save your money, meet with an accountant or personal finance specialist to plan for small ways to improve your financial life each month.

Finally, be sure to surround yourself with people who support you and your goals. You’ll be much more likely to succeed if you have friends and family who can cheer you on. Happy New Year!

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