One of the most common questions I hear at this time of year is: “New Year’s resolutions are so difficult, should I even bother trying?” It is true that 46 percent of people give up their resolutions by the six-month mark.
However it is still worth it, considering those who make resolutions are 10 times more likely to achieve their goals than those who do not. Since most are not sure they will even come close to maintaining their commitment, many resolve secretly, unwilling to make the plan public, just in case they fail. But in fact, this strategy is probably the opposite of a plan built to succeed.
Making a resolution public helps with sticking to it. This doesn’t mean telling everyone. Rather, pick a few trusted, supportive people who will ask about progress and offer motivation. Another excellent tactic is to find a friend with a similar objective and support each other. Caroline’s resolution is to run a 5K by the summer. She asked her friend Mary to train with her. This worked perfectly for Mary, whose goal is to lose 10 pounds. The friends have committed to meet three mornings a week to exercise. As a bonus, their friendship will benefit from the time spent together.
People with similar resolutions aren’t the only ones who can offer support. It is also important to ask for help from those who may not have the same goals—especially if an uphill battle is expected. Richard has decided he will finally quit smoking, which he knows will be very difficult. He asked his wife Suzy for help through the process, including tolerating mood swings and helping steer clear of other smokers for a while. Suzy is happy to support Richard and asked him for help achieving her goal to tidy up the house. (Perhaps it will keep his mind off smoking.)
For some, the best way to get support is by calling on a professional. This is particularly true when a goal has been missed multiple times (like medically necessary weight loss) or if the behavior is having a seriously negative impact (like becoming drunk too often or at inappropriate times). When the stakes for achieving a goal are high (perhaps your kids don’t want to be with you because you lose your temper so easily), it may be time to see a therapist or join a support group. There is no shame in asking for help—in fact, it will dramatically increase the chance of success. And every resolution needs all the help it can get.