Whatever you do, don’t give up on those New Year’s resolutions

By Andrew Jose and Andrew Jose

We’re all familiar with the situation: It’s Dec. 31, and you have just made a list of what you are sure will be the best and most successful New Year’s resolutions to date. A countdown and a ball drop later, and you’re ready to embark on your lofty resolutions. But there’s a problem: In all of your excitement you’ve forgotten to set your morning alarm, and your body decides it wants to make up for your late night by sleeping well into the next day. Waking up sometime after noon, you realize that you are now running behind on the tasks of the day. In your frenzied rush to catch up, you fail to remember the resolutions you so resolutely set the night before. A week later they are completely absent from your mind.

Because of the frequency with which this happens, many have abandoned the concept of setting a New Year’s resolution altogether. After all, why set a resolution when you know you can’t keep it? But before we abandon the notion completely, we should look at the positive outcomes that setting a resolution can have.

Setting goals is an invaluable part of achieving our objectives and challenging ourselves to go beyond our comfort zones. By setting specific goals — like the ones many of us set every January — we give ourselves something to work towards and are able to actively measure our success. Setting goals and leaving it at that isn’t enough, however, which is probably why most New Year’s resolutions fail. Without a specific plan and a way to measure progress along the way, achieving goals becomes much more difficult.

It comes as no surprise, then, that setting specific objectives, writing down our goals and measuring our success all have been shown to improve our ability to meet the goals we have set. These concepts seem almost common sense at first, but the results of goal-setting are anything but predictable.

In one study of Harvard MBA students, researchers found that students who set goals during their time in school were earning an average of twice as much as their peers 10 years after the initial survey. While only three percent of the students surveyed had written down their goals and plans, the study showed that these students tended to be very successful — so successful, in fact, that they were earning an average of 10 times as much as all of their peers in the study combined 10 years down the road. All that from a little planning and writing.

So if you’ve already given up on your New Year’s resolutions, or if you’ve never bothered to set them in the first place, it’s not too late to create a vision of what you would like to achieve. You don’t have to share your “new year, new me” post on Facebook to set an effective New Year’s resolution. You don’t even need to be wearing those 2015 glasses you got at the dollar store. All you need is a goal, a plan and the drive to achieve it.

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