As the new year approaches, many people make resolutions to change something about their life. Whether your resolution is to dance more or lose weight, there are some simple criteria that can help you set and keep your resolution.
- Make your resolution specific. “Eat better” or “practice more” are very generic, and generic resolutions make it difficult to keep your resolution. Good resolutions make clear what you expect from yourself. “No junk food after 6pm” or “Practice three times a week for at least 10 minutes” are much better resolutions.
- Your resolution should be measurable. Motivation and accountability both depend on the ability to see progress (or a lack thereof). Making your resolution measurable—practicing for 20 minutes, going for a walk three times a week, etc.—allows you to see whether you are reaching your goal or whether something needs to change.
- Good resolutions are attainable. It’s ok for a resolution to push you to grow, but you have to be capable of the level of growth necessary. Loosing 100 lbs in a year is probably not a good goal if you can’t dedicate a good chunk of time to eating better and exercising. Picking an attainable goal makes it more likely that you will keep up your commitment throughout the resolution, while unrealistic goals breed discouragement and defeatism.
- Make your resolution realistic. If you’re an intermediate competitor, becoming all-star by the end of the year is not realistic, and making advanced may be a stretch unless you are consistently making finals already and are traveling to lots of events over the year. If you’re only able to attend a couple of events, expecting to place highly at every event is just setting yourself up for failure.
- Finally, good resolutions are timely. Don’t just say that you will accomplish your resolution “someday” or “this year.” Specific timeframes help your brain plan how to attain the goal, and shorter timeframes also make it easier to keep up your motivation. You might even consider making a resolution for the first three months of the year and then revisiting the resolution to see if you want to keep it or if you need to change it.