The types of New Year’s resolutions that we make might change as we age (not many of us resolve to climb Mount Everest but we might pledge to spend more time with our grandkids), but the principles that ensure their successful implementation remain the same. Here are 10 tips for how to make and keep resolutions during 2017.
1. Identify a goal that is very important to you. Choose something that will definitely enhance your life (as defined by you, not someone else). For a senior, that might mean socializing more or learning new technology. Make sure it is realistic and attainable, but inspiring.
2. Create a road map with incremental steps. For example, if you’re trying to lose weight, build in landmarks along way, such as seeing five pounds disappear within two months. That way, you’ll experience a series of mini-triumphs along the way to the “big pay-off.”
3. Write down your goal. Committing your resolution to paper can make it seem more concrete, and keep it top of mind. Write it on a clearly visible whiteboard, post it on the fridge or make it part of your computer’s screen saver so you’ll be reminded about your intentions.
4. Get others involved to help support you. Telling a trusted friend about your aspirations allows you to enlist an ally—someone who can cheer you on when rough patches show up.
5. Reduce the level of distractions in your life. Managing the amount of time spent answering email, engaging on social media and watching television could immediately free up more time and attention to invest in realizing your resolution (and potentially lessening your stress level).
6. Do things that put you in a positive frame of mind. Exercise, hobbies, visiting with friends and remembering past accomplishments make us feel good and ready to tackle new challenges.
7. Visualize what success will look like. How much more energy will you have if you are eating healthier? How broad will your grandson’s smile be when he sees you at more of his soccer games? These are powerful images that motivate us to persevere.
8. Track progress. Comparing our actual progress with what we envisioned can tell us when we are off-track so we can recalibrate. Perhaps the mini-steps we planned were too ambitious, or led us on a detour that didn’t prove productive.
9. Plan rewards at strategic points. Incorporating appropriate rewards as you reach and fulfill key milestones can help you enjoy the journey as much as reaching your destination. For example, savor the joy of learning a new song on the instrument you have resolved to master.
10. Celebrate. A victory dance is certainly in order if you reach the finish line. It’s time to gather the people who supported you, share your joy, and express your gratitude for their role in your success.