The Supplement: New Year's Resolutions

There is something galvanizing about a new year. Couple the prospect of a clean slate with the backdrop of a solid six weeks of behavioral chaos and resolutions are especially appealing. A November 2017 Statista survey reports the following top resolutions for 2018.

Of the people who make New Year’s resolutions, approximately 40% give up on them within three weeks. And next year they will repeat the process with the same outcome. What do you need to know to increase your chances of sustaining a well-intended New Year’s resolution?

How SMART is your resolution?

To succeed a resolution has to be SMART. SMART is an acronym for the characteristics of an attainable goal. It stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Timely. Despite the sincerity of the top 2018 resolutions above, none of them are SMART enough to achieve. Let’s examine the number one resolution – save money.

  • Specific - What are you saving for? Is it compelling?
  • Measurable - How much money do you want to save?
  • Achievable - Given your current lifestyle, what are the changes you are willing to make to reduce spending or increase income?
  • Realistic – Is it likely that you will pack your lunch? Give up your daily stop to Starbucks? Have your hair cut every six weeks instead of every four? Quit the gym, the magazine subscription, or the season tickets? Would you take on a part-time job?
  • Timely - If you would like to save $XXXX by doing XXXX, is XXXX a reasonable amount of time in which to do it?

I will save $1,500 for my ski trip to Aspen in December by skipping my daily Starbucks trip.  Is a SMART goal.  “Save money” is a hope.

How ready are you to change?  

When weighing your options for cutting spending or increasing income, how willing are you to:

You have to be ready. A willingness response of 7 or greater is very likely to happen. Below that, the goal needs refining. By adjusting the haircut goal from six to five weeks, we turned an unlikely occurrence into a realizable change. The responses less than 7 aren’t viable enough to adjust.

Is this is good time to change?

Despite having a SMART goal and a strong willingness to change, you still have work to do. Is the beginning of the calendar year a good time for you? New Year’s Day is what social scientists call a temporal landmark. Just as the convenience store at the end of your street reminds you where to turn, the first of the year is a demarcation for navigating time that provides impetus for action. Other temporal landmarks include Mondays, the first of the month, the first of the quarter, or perhaps your birthday. You are more likely to succeed with your goal if it is added to a routine you already practice consistently. Because January 1 is a holiday and you may feel lousy from a night of revelry, you may be highly motivated but lack the structure to get started. Consider starting on January 2 or whatever day is the first day back to your work or school routine.

I wouldn’t give up a strong cup of coffee on New Year’s Day either. But I will wish you a happy new year!

Check out www.stickk.com if you are looking for extra motivation.

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