A funny thing happens when a new year starts. For many of us, we craft these resolutions, these goals for the new year, as a way of making a fresh start to the year. Here’s a few tips to make those goals stick.

1. They have to be achievable.

2. They have to be measurable.

3. They have to be atomic. By this, I mean they have to have pieces and steps. It’s not enough say you want to lose 25 pounds – you want to lose a pound every week, or some granular measurement that tells you whether you’re on track or not.

But here’s the most important tip for new year’s resolutions – you have to be resolute about them, absolutely firm in your convictions about achieving them. Being resolute isn’t easy; it helps greatly to have two emotional driving forces to power it. You have to really, really, really want something that you can define in very concrete, emotional terms, and you have to really, really, really want to get away from something in the same kind of terms. Let’s look at some examples.

Bad resolution:

I want to lose weight this year.

Good resolution:

I want to lose 25 pounds this year.

Great resolution:

I want to lose 25 pounds this year at 3 pounds a month, or roughly one every couple of weeks.

Almost certainly going to happen resolution:

I want to lose 25 pounds this year at 3 pounds a month, or roughly one every couple of weeks so that I stop feeling ashamed of myself first thing in the morning in the mirror and so I can hang out with my athletic friends on Monday nights at the club and attract Samantha’s attention for a date.

See how each resolution gets more and more specific, with more and more concrete ways to measure your success and give you reasons to do it?

Do the same with your resolutions. One thing that seems to help a lot of people is to write a resolution down, perhaps on a sheet of paper or plank of wood, and carry it with you. Make sure your resolution has these emotional ties to it so that it’s there as almost a totem for when you stand the possibility of going seriously off track. If you can carry it around somehow, you should.

I wish you not only a happy new year, but a year filled with achievements and accomplishments. Thanks for being part of my life.

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