It’s an ongoing internet joke that people regularly make resolutions that they drop within the first week. Gym memberships go up, people swear they’re going to do X and then a month later they’ve forgotten about it. I’ve always been of the mind that if I’m not going to do it, why set a resolution? I’ve also been really, really bad about resolutions.

Until I realized I was doing them all wrong. I used to write really, really vague resolutions: Go to the gym more. Cook at home more. Relax more. Do yoga. Those all sound great, but let’s think about it… how do you even measure the progress?? One day at the gym? Twenty days? Twenty weeks? When progress isn’t measurable it’s easy to give up. So let me show you 3 steps toward writing resolutions that you’ll actually keep.

1) Set YOUR priorities: Resolutions don’t help if they aren’t aligned with what’s important to you. If you’re already exercising regularly, don’t just say you want to go to the gym because you feel like you should! Pat yourself on the back that that’s not an issue for you and move on to areas of your life that you do want to work on. That’s not to say you can’t create goals in other areas, but your main resolutions should be in your priority areas. Here are a few ideas of priorities to pick from; look this list over and pick two you want to focus on:

Self care
Social life

2) Write Measurable and Achievable Goals: Now that you have your two priority areas, start thinking about specific goals you can achieve in each of these areas, at least two per area. The key is to make them achievable in the next year and not something ongoing. They also need to be measurable. Here are some examples:

Priority Area: Social Life
Original resolution: Be more social
Achievable, Measurable goal for next year: Go to at least one event per month for a Meetup group

Priority Area: Movement/Exercise
Original resolution: Get fit
Achievable, Measure goal: Join a gym and go two times a week during January

Priority Area: Financial
Original resolution: Get out of debt
Achievable, Measurable goal: Pay off [Name of Loan] debt in the amount of [amount] by June by paying [$X] a month.

Priority Area: Self care
Original resolution: Love myself more
Achievable, measurable goal: Get a massage in January and spend one afternoon a week doing something fun.

You can see than in each of these cases, in order to make a resolution that you might have a chance of keeping you have to make it something that is doable in a year and something that is measurable. Saying that you will “Be more social” is vague and it’s easy to forget. Saying that you are committing to one event per month is specific, measurable and achievable.

3) Lastly, don’t discount the SNOWBALL EFFECT. This is the effect of achieving small successes on your way to larger goals. When you start making baby steps, you feel better and you feel motivated to keep making bigger changes. Take advantage of this by setting SMALL goals, even if they sound silly. As in the examples above, choose to commit for a month or a week to your new goals.

Humans are natural perfectionists and pessimists when it comes to changing ourselves. We see one “failure” and it’s so easy to give up. Instead, focus on the short term goals and once you can get those it will be easier to continue! So instead of saying you’re going to go to the gym 2 times per week for the whole year, start with one month. By the time the end of January rolls around, you’ll be loving your new routine, you’ll get used to finding time for it, and continuing on into February and the next months will get easier and easier.

Okay, your turn! In summary, here’s what to do to create real New Year’s Resolutions you’ll actually want to keep:
1) Pick your 2 priority areas
2) Write 2 goals for each priority area (you may write more, and in other areas as well)
3) Make the goals simple and build from your success!

What are your Achievable, Measurable Goals for New Year’s?