Make Resolutions Stick

By Jan Cullinane
NABBW’s Expert on The New Retirement

FIVE, FOUR, THREE, TWO, ONE – HAPPY NEW YEAR! How many of us, when that ball is dropping, vow we will eat healthier/exercise more/be nicer/stop smoking/read more…you know the drill. There are a few ways to improve the chances that we\’ll keep our resolutions, at least beyond the first few weeks. People who actually keep their resolutions tend to share some common strategies. They:

  • Make their goal specific. Example: Use the SMART acronym (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, Time-Sensitive). “I will walk Mon, Wednesday, and Thursday at 6 p.m. for 30 minutes” is SMART; “I will exercise more” is not.
  • Break down the goal into smaller parts. Example: You drink five Cokes a day. Drink four Cokes/day for a week, then 3 Cokes/day for a week, etc.
  • Tell their friends about their goals. It helps keep them on track – and honest.
  • Keep a record. Writing down a goal and seeing progress helps.
  • Acknowledge it\’s a temporary setback if they stray from their resolution, and get back on track. Don\’t get pulled into all-or-nothing thinking.
  • Focus on the benefits of success, not the agony of failure. Reflect on how much healthier you\’ll feel, for example, rather than how you won\’t fit into that little black dress unless you lose 10 pounds.

Retired or not, New Year\’s Eve or not, incorporating some of these tips can help make your goals more likely to be realized. Here\’s to a wonderful 2012.

Jan Cullinane is the co-author of The New Retirement: The Ultimate Guide to the Rest of Your Life (Rodale).