So the new year is here, and you’ve made a resolution to lose weight. Or maybe your goal is to save money. We hate to burst your bubble, but statistically speaking, you are likely to fail. One commonly cited study by the University of Scranton found that only 8 percent of people who make New Year’s resolutions achieve them. If you’re the optimistic type, that means there is a chance that you could succeed. Here are a few rules to help you beat the odds.
Set Realistic Expectations
We live in a culture of instant gratification. It seems that whatever we want, there’s an app for that, or Amazon can deliver it overnight, or we can get instant approval on something as complex as a home loan. So it’s no wonder that when many people make a resolution, they want to achieve it overnight. It’s not that simple. Say your goal is to lose 20 pounds. Yes, there are diet and exercise routines that promise you can lose 5 to 10 pounds a week. The headlines (“Lose weight fast!”) touting these plans seem so promising. But people who set out to follow these routines often fail because they lack the discipline required to radically change their diet and go to the gym several days a week.
Instead, target a very attainable weight-loss goal of one pound per week. This can involve something as simple as cutting out that morning doughnut, and walking for 20 minutes each day. After a few months, you will have met your goal. That type of lifestyle change is much more sustainable in the long term.
Don’t Make Excuses
Say your New Year’s goal is to pay off your credit card balance of $5,000. (According to Nerdwallet.com, the average American with a credit card balance in 2016 is carrying a debt of $16,061). Unless you have a sudden and hefty jump in income, you’re not going to pay that off overnight. Here’s where many people would say, “It’s impossible. I’ll just give up.” Instead of quitting, take small steps to reach your goal. Vow to make an additional payment each month above your minimum monthly payment. Even if it’s only $100 or $150, if you keep at it on a monthly basis, you will start to make a dent in that debt.
Excuses are easy to make and rationalize. Say your goal is to walk a couple of miles each day. But you wake up one morning, it’s 20 degrees outside, and you think, “It’s too cold to walk today.” But find a way to ditch the excuses and make your goal happen. Dress warmly and go out and brave the cold. Or go to the mall and walk around.
Share Your Experience With Others
It is possible to reach your resolution on your own. But it’s easier — and more fun — to share your experience with a friend or others. Join a workout class where you can find others who are trying to lose weight. Find someone else in your office who is trying to quit smoking and encourage them. Not only will these interactions help you achieve your goals, you’ll be encouraging others to meet their resolutions.