Use Proven Strategies to Keep Resolutions

Posted: September 19, 2011

If you made New Year’s resolutions, set yourself up for success to achieve your goals. So many times, we fail to keep our resolutions. In fact, according to Lou Mueller, Utah State University Extension Family and Consumer Sciences Agent, a research study in which 1000 people participated showed that 98 percent did not keep their resolutions.

     Ms. Mueller says that those who are successful in changing their behavior exhibit six strategies that lead to success. Studies show that implementing a combination of any four of the following tactics can help you follow through.

     Create an environment that will help you achieve your goal. If you resolve to cut spending, leave credit cards home, freeze them, or consider canceling all but one, and stay away from shopping malls and shopping websites. If your goal is to lose weight, stock up on fresh fruits and vegetables and avoid fast foods, which can contribute significantly to obesity.

     Identify motivation. Make sure your motives align with your values. What matters most?  Perhaps a resolution to do a kind deed daily for someone else or to spend more time with family and friends is more meaningful to you than a self improvement goal. 

     Increase your skills. If your resolution is to save money, gain expertise by learning more about budgeting and personal finance. Check out this great extension resource for more information on financial topics:

     Enlist the help of others. Get reinforcement from family, friends and colleagues; those individuals whom you know will truly support and encourage you. They can boost your confidence when willpower starts to slip.

     Stay away from social situations and people who may not be supportive. Two resolutions that make the top ten list every year include “stop smoking” and “stop drinking.” If you are working on either of these, this tip is particularly important for you.

     Reward yourself. Measure small milestones and be sure to celebrate success.

     Remember that you're in for the long haul. Don't expect to slip up, but be prepared for temporary failure in case it happens. If you do slip up, don’t give up. You can still achieve your goals if you persevere.

    Karen Thomas is a family and consumer sciences educator for Penn State Cooperative Extension of Lackawanna County.