A challenging, yet achievable, New Year’s resolution can be quite motivating and successful. Perhaps you’ve been trying to shed five pounds or read more books; a new year presents a new canvas of opportunity.
New Year’s resolutions have religious origins, dating back to the Babylonians, who would return borrowed goods and pay their debts, and to the Romans, who would make promises to their god Janus, after whom the month of January is named. But this ancient tradition is often difficult to follow through with, especially when the goal you’ve set for yourself requires an unusual amount of self-control. A recent New York Times article describes four tips for helping you fulfill your New Year’s resolutions:
1. Make a concrete plan. Your intentions then become firmly embedded in your memory, making good behavior difficult to postpone because you would be breaking the pact with yourself. The commitment to yourself drives you forward with purpose, thus reducing your chances of violating your New Year’s goal.
2. Put something you value on the line. Now, something is at stake. You can’t just wave off your game plan because you want to; you must stick to it, or something will be lost. For example, perhaps you resolve to exercise more this year. If you make workout plans with your friend, you can’t excuse yourself from the commitment because you would be letting your friends down.
3. Bundle your temptations. If your resolution is a hardship for you, one that would take you away from activities that you thoroughly enjoy, take those temptations with you. For example, if you would much rather be reading trashy novels on your couch than going to the gym, take your book with you to the gym. You will then be fulfilling your New Year’s resolution but also enjoying yourself.
4. Seek social support. Pursue your goals with a friend or a mentor. Everything is more fun with a friend, and you will also feel the need to keep up your end of the bargain.
With these tips on how to keep your New Year’s resolutions, everyone should have a better chance of ending 2014 having successfully maintained them.