Some people like to joke about giving up their New Year Resolutions for Lent. It’s good for a laugh, but also illustrates how many people give up on their goals as quarter one draws to a close. For some, it’s harder than they thought it would be. For others, a long-term grind makes the whole thing too tedious to carry out to fruition.
If you’re having trouble sticking to your resolution as the weather grows warmer, try one of these tricks from productivity experts to push through and keep that promise you made to yourself.
1. Insert Time Limits
Resolutions with no clear beginning or end are destined for failure. Human beings are motivated by success and benchmarks. Try putting your resolution into a time frame and see how much better you feel about it.
Bad Example: “I will never eat ice cream again.”
Good Example: “I won’t eat ice cream until I reach my goal weight.”
2. Get Back on the Horse
If you’ve already quit on your resolution, call a Mulligan and start again. Forgive yourself for your earlier mistake and start fresh tomorrow morning. If you mess up again in three weeks, get back on the horse at the beginning of week four. A little progress beats no progress at all.
Bad Example: “I give up. I’ll never run a 10-minute mile.”
Good Example: “A 10:30 mile is better than no mile at all, and we’ll see if we can’t hit 10:15 by Spring Break.”
3. Write it Down
You’re always excited about your resolution on January 1, but it slides into the back of your attention as the weeks roll by. Write your goal down someplace you’ll see it often, like a post-it on your monitor, a note on your steering wheel, or in dry-erase marker on your bathroom mirror.
Bad Example: Leaving the bar napkin you wrote the resolution on in your junk drawer.
Good Example: Setting a calendar alarm on your phone to call you every morning and remind you.
4. Bribe Yourself
Bribery gets a bad rap. Your boss bribes you to come to work. You teachers bribed you with good grades. There is absolutely nothing wrong with bribing yourself for small successes with your resolution. Just be sensible with the reward.
Bad Example: “If I make it through the morning without smoking, I get a cigarette at my lunch break.”
Good Example: “I’ll put the money I would spend on cigarettes in a jar, then splurge on a shopping spree whenever it hits $200.”
5. Find a Buddy
Few things improve your accountability like having to share your progress with somebody you care about. Find a workout partner for exercise resolutions, a weigh-in buddy for weight loss resolutions, or just a mutual coach to demand progress reports.
Bad Example: Complaining to friends about how you never achieve your resolutions.
Good Example: Meeting weekly with a friend to discuss results and strategies.
6. Narrow the Focus
Some resolutions are simply too broad, or too sweeping, to be reasonably accomplished. If you find you’re frustrated with your resolution because you feel you never make headway, this could be why. Reassess the goal and then rephrase it in a more manageable format.
Bad Example: “This year I resolve to lose weight.”
Good Example: “I’ll lose 12 pounds this year, at a rate of one pound a month.”
Readers, what resolutions have you dropped in your life? What do you think would have happened if you’d applied one of these strategies?
“The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People,” Stephen Covey