I’m not great at predicting the future, but there is one thing I can virtually guarantee: when the clock strikes midnight on New Year’s Eve, millions of Americans will have given themselves resolutions to stick to in 2016.

 

Sadly, numerous studies have shown that more than nine out of ten people who make New Year’s resolutions won’t stick to them for more than a few days (if that). Here’s why most resolutions fail, and what you can do about it:

 

Many New Year’s resolutions aren’t realistic – The classic example is a severely overweight person who resolves to run a marathon within a few months. That’s not a bad goal, but it isn’t realistic for the timeframe. It’s better to set small targets and hit them than it is to make grandiose plans and fail to even get started.

 

Every goal needs a plan – A New Year’s resolution can be a great thing, but it’s only valuable if you have a plan to back it up. Decide in advance how you’re going to achieve your goal, including as many specific steps as you possibly can.

 

To get something, you have to give something – To make time for something new, you’ll probably have to give up an existing habit. For example, learning to cook could mean forsaking some of your favorite television shows. Recognize this in advance and decide which trade-offs you can live with.

 

Commit to only one new resolution – Although you can change a few things in your life at the same time, it’s generally easier to adopt one new habit or skill and focus on it. If you can, give yourself one big resolution to stick to, and then put all of your energy and enthusiasm behind it.

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