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Jan 01 2017
by Jared Fembleaux

18 Ways to Stick to Your New Year’s/Semester Resolutions

By Jared Fembleaux - Jan 01 2017

Believe me, we get it: resolutions can be hard to keep, especially when you're busy with school. Only 8 percent of people are reported to stick to their New Year's Resolutions, so why do we keep making them? The answer: to better ourselves! We are always searching and striving to be the best versions of ourselves that we can be. But when life gets hard, you start to lose those resolutions for a better lifestyle and you start to settle for a lesser standard. 

So how do you firmly stick to those goals without dropping them by the end of the first week in January? Try one of the methods below to stay on track with your goals during the new year. 

1. Keep resolutions realistic.

One of the first things you should do when thinking of resolutions for the new year is to think if your goals are S.M.A.R.T or not: are they specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and timely? If so, great! The more specific and in depth your goals and resolutions are, the easier it will be for you to put them into perspective and to achieve them.

2. Pick just one goal.

Having just one goal will make it ten times easier for you to focus and make that goal a reality. When you have a list of things that you want to get done, it's hard to start three different tasks and expect to thoroughly complete all of them done at the same time. Focus on one goal first — when you complete that, you can move on to the next goal. 

3. Make it something you love.

Roman Kraft via Unsplash

Why do New Year's Resolutions always have to be to lose more weight or to eat healthier? Yes, you should always treat your body like a temple, but sometimes when there is pressure to achieve these goals, they feel unrealistic. Try having a simpler resolution such as reading one book a month or talk to your parents on the phone twice a week.

4. Plan ahead.

Now that you have your resolution, something that will help you succeed is planning. You never want to go into anything head first without thinking it through. Setting benchmarks can help you progress more than you would if you just tried to achieve your goal as you went along day to day.

"How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time." This means don't try to do it all at once. Pace yourself, and make sure you're hitting those benchmarks. To start, choose actual dates on a calendar and write down what has to be done by that date.

5. Write a commitment card.

Make a commitment card. It's quite simple: all you do is take a post-it note or a small piece of paper, and write down your commitment to your resolution. Keep it in your wallet, car or even carry it around with you so you see it and remember to keep going strong.

For example, "I promise to run three miles every Tuesday morning." It's quick and simple and can help you stick to your goals.

6. Talk about what you want and what you don't want.

By talking out loud to a friend or a family member, you can work out what you really want and what you really don't want in the new year. This can also help work out any kinks in your plan that you may not have thought through before.

7. Make a gradual change (a few days, more and more).

Nothing is achieved overnight. You have to put your toe in the water before completely diving in. If your resolution is to eat healthy, be strict on Mondays and Tuesdays, and then the rest of the week you can be a little bit more relaxed. Each week, add more days until you're eating healthy the entire week and only have one cheat day.

8. Use the ten-minute rule.

Crew via Unsplash

With your busy college schedule always getting in the way, try to use the ten-minute rule to feel like you are accomplishing your goal a little bit at a time. The ten-minute rule is doing your resolution for at least ten minutes a day. Is your resolution to practice an instrument more this year? Try to practice it for at least ten minutes a day to help the process get started. 

9. Plan rewards (daily, weekly, monthly).

You won't accomplish your resolution if you hate what you are doing. Give yourself some rewards every now and then so that you have something to look forward to. This will make you work a little bit harder so that you get to that reward. Start off giving yourself daily rewards, then weekly rewards and then monthly rewards. 

10. Each day is a new start.

One of the biggest things you should remember is that each day is a brand new start. January 1 is not the only day of the year to implement new resolutions or start living a different lifestyle. With each day that comes, there are new opportunities for you. Don't be afraid to start today if that's when you decide to start. Don't wait for January 1 to roll around to start being a better you.

11. Hold yourself accountable (put on social media so others can help track your progress).

You are really the only one who can hold yourself accountable for achieving your goals. But you don't have to do it alone! Try sharing your goals and resolutions with your friends and family on Facebook or Instagram so that they can give motivation along the way or inspiration when you seem to be falling behind.  

12. Plan for disruptions and adapt.

Without a doubt, there are going to be some things that you didn't expect. Just be aware that your progress and your goals may be disrupted because life is funny that way. Don't let this trick you and throw you off your game. Make sure you adapt to the situations in your life, but keep pushing towards your goal.

13. Ask for help.

This is nothing to ashamed of. When life gets in the way, reaching out to someone you love for motivation or for their advice on how to keep going can help you stay on track. Never underestimate the power of talking and asking for help. 

14. Use the buddy system.

Brooke Cagle via Unsplash

Have the same resolution as a few of your friends. This will motivate you to keep up with them, and you can all push each other to keep working towards the shared goal. If you want to go to the gym more often, having friends to go with can make you feel more comfortable. This is also time that you're spending with your friends; you can take a not-so-fun resolution and turn it into an activity that you really look forward to. 

15. There's an app for that.

There are so many apps in the App Store and the Google Play Store that will help you eat better, lose weight, drink more water, etc. Whatever you are looking for, they will have it. Even if you don't want to download any apps onto your phone, use the calendar app that comes already downloaded onto it! Set reminders and create events so that your phone sends you push notifications to remind you of whatever you should be doing. 

16. Stop "all or nothing" thinking.

Reaching resolutions and goals is a lot of give and take. Try changing your thoughts from "it's either one way or the other" to "there are many different ways that you can reach the finish line." Having a more positive attitude can prove extremely successful when you are feeling like you will never accomplish your goals.  

17. Have a "year of yes." 

Lose the excuses. Plain and simple! There are going to be plenty of times when you're feeling tired and just not in the mood to do anything, but if somebody asks you to do something, say yes. This will change up any monotonous routines you have and can help you get closer to your goals. If someone asks you to go to the gym with them, say yes. If someone asks you to go see a movie with them, say yes.

As Shonda Rhimes, writer and producer of the TV shows "Grey's Anatomy," "Scandal" and "How to Get Away with Murder" said in her TedTalk on her year of saying "YES" to everything, she explains that:

The very act of doing the thing that scared me undid the fear, made it not scary. My fear of public speaking, my social anxiety, poof, gone. It's amazing, the power of one word. "Yes" changed my life. "Yes" changed me.

18. Remember: it takes a few tries.

It is proven that only about 8 percent of people usually keep to their resolutions. When people hear this statistic, they figure that they won't be part of that 8 percent because they know they're going to fail. But that's the thing: you are going to fail a few times before you accomplish your goals. 

Even those people who are ultimately successful at sticking to their resolutions make the attempt five or six times on average before succeeding.

The most important thing is not giving up. Every time you fall off the horse, get back onto it. 

As you make your New Year's Resolutions, don't get overwhelmed by thinking about that you will have to do in the coming year to try and make it stick. Take your resolution step by step, bite by bite and never give up on yourself. Always remember to have faith and remember that you are constantly working towards a better you. Good luck with your resolutions and have a great New Year! 

Do you have any tricks or tips for how to keep your New Year's Resolutions for the entire new year? Tell us on our Facebook and Twitter!

Lead Image Credit: Brigitte Tohm via Unsplash

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Jared Fembleaux - Loyola Marymount University

Jared Fembleaux is a freshman screenwriting major at Loyola Marymount University. Jared loves dogs, Netflix and creating artwork. Follow him on Instagram @fembleaux!

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