4 Ways to Succeed at Keeping Your New Year's Resolution

Ambitious goals are great but make it specific and lay out a plan for success.

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By Larry Alton

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Do you have a difficult time sticking to your New Year's resolution commitments? Well, you're certainly not the only one. According to research conducted at the University of Scranton, only 44 percent of those who make New Year's resolutions are still hanging in there six months later. This shouldn't come as too much of a surprise, since we typically give ourselves some major stretch goals in January, often with very little planning involved. Vague resolutions like lose weight, get rich, find a new job or eat better become our mantras. However, if you truly wish to succeed, you'll need to move beyond these cursory ideas and get to work.

1. Break your goal into achievable benchmarks.

One of the main reasons why people have such a hard time fulfilling their New Year's resolutions is because the goals are too general. Take "get in shape." What exactly does that mean? Personal fitness is different for everyone. Are you trying to put on pounds of muscles or trying to shed fat? Are you focused on altering your diet, level of activity or both? Think about the specific goals you're trying to achieve, and then start breaking them into manageable bits. For example, if you're trying to lose 30 pounds and reach a goal weight of 135 pounds by December, then you'll need to shed about 2.5 pounds each month. Breaking it down into smaller achievements can make your goals seem far less intimidating.

Related: 5 New Year's Resolutions That Set Up Entrepreneurs for Disappointment

2. Schedule check-ins.

It's not uncommon to completely forget about your New Year's resolutions after a few weeks or months have gone by. Everyday life can catch up with you, and you might be too focused on work, family or other obligations to really stay focused on your major goal. That's why it's so important to schedule several days throughout the year when you'll reassess the progress toward your resolution goals. Mark off one day each month to take stock of the following:

How close are you to achieving your goals?

What have you done during the past month to fulfill your goals?

What will you do next month toward your goals?

3. Don't let failure stop you.

It can be incredibly difficult to sustain an effort toward your goals throughout an entire year. Once you drop the ball, it can be too easy to talk yourself out of trying. However, it's important to recognize that you can continue forward, even if you have come to a screeching halt. This is a common hurdle while dieting. While your "cheat day" might have turned into a "cheat week," you can always resume your diet at any moment. The same goes for your daily workout routine, progress on your novel, or any major goal that requires a dedicated effort.

Related: Why You Don't Keep Your Resolutions...And How to Fix That

4. Measure everything.

Metrics matter. It's why we're so addicted to apps that track our progress. Here are some things to note:

Break large goals into manageable units.

Measure percentages: complete vs. incomplete.

Log everything, even if it's a setback.

Are you feeling more prepared to tackle your annual resolution? If you haven't made one already, you can still get started on your plans. Here's to your 2015 goals!

Related: 15 Inspirational Quotes to Motivate You in the New Year

Larry Alton

Freelance Writer & Former Entrepreneur

Larry Alton is an independent business consultant specializing in social media trends, business, and entrepreneurship. Follow him on Twitter and LinkedIn.

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