Habit forming is perhaps the hardest thing to do, especially when it comes to New Years’ resolutions. We all make them on the night of December, but most of us forget about them come February or March. In this quick guide, we give you the tools to stick to your New Years’ resolutions and reach your goals.

It’s that time of the year again to begin thinking of out New Years’ resolutions. Let’s face it: all of us have them. And let’s also face it: many of us will make them only to give up on them after the first month or so. In this article, we will tell you in practical, no-nonsense manner how to stick to all your New Years’ resolutions for the whole year, and how to usher in a newer happier you come December.

1. Don’t make too many of them
Often, we want to attack all our pending goals in one year. Fall in love. Make time for yourself. Learn a new language. Get responsible financially. Stop smoking. Stop drinking. Make time for family. Et cetera. Et cetera. Sometimes we may commit to many resolutions in the hope that at least one of them will come true. But in practice, what happens is that your motivation will take a hit and you will end the year with a big heap of failed resolutions, and you will feel miserable. So pick one or two resolutions. No more.

2. Quantify your resolution
Put a number to your resolution. Instead of saying, ‘I must lose weight this year’, write down something specific, like: ‘I will lose 6 kilos this year.’ Instead of saying, ‘I want to quit smoking’, a more specific goal like ‘I want to reduce my daily cigarette count to 2 per day by December’ will act as better motivation. No matter what the goal is, quantify it. And write it down.

3. Break the yearly target into monthly targets
If your goal is to lose 6 kilos by the end of the year, break the larger target into twelve smaller targets. So every month, your goal is to lose 500 grams of weight. If you want to bring down your cigarette smoking count from 12 to 0, each month, you should bring it down by 1. So at the end of January, you will be smoking 11 per day, at the end of February you will be smoking 10 per day and so on. This breaks down the big target – which may sound insurmountable – into smaller, more manageable chunks.

4. Record your progress
On a weekly basis, record your progress as to whether or not you are not track to achieving your monthly target. Each time you achieve your monthly target, reward yourself in some way unrelated to your goal. This means that if you have a weight loss goal, you cannot reward yourself with a chocolate cake, and if you have a smoking goal, you cannot reward yourself with an extra cigarette. Reward yourself in an unrelated manner.

5. If you miss a month…
If you miss a monthly target, don’t be too hard on yourself and get de-motivated. Just calculate the amount by which you missed and average it out over the remaining months. So the target for your future months will go up slightly. If you get de-motivated about not achieving the target, there is a good chance that you will throw away the plan. Instead, take it on board and just put your head down for the remainder of the year.

Harshit Sinha

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