New Year, New Start?

New Year's resolutions start off with the best of intentions; but it's all too easy to lose sight of your goals, and it's sometimes difficult to get back on track again. Everything from leading a healthier lifestyle to finding a new job can be the motivation behind making New Year's resolutions; but with so many people failing to make it past the first few weeks of the year, what could help keep them motivated to see their resolutions through?

What Are The Most Popular Resolutions?

Losing weight, taking more exercise and giving up smoking, all figure highly on everyone's list of goals for the coming year. However, many people make other resolutions such as spending more time with their families, falling in love and living life to the fullest. These resolutions rarely make it past New Year's Day because this type of goal is too vague. That said, people who make resolutions each year are more likely to reach their goals than those who don't. Therefore, just making the resolution could be your first step towards success.

How Long Do Resolutions Last?

The common pattern for most New Year's resolutions is about two weeks; after that, most are long forgotten, but some people can pick them up again a little later in the year. Everyone has been in the same boat at some stage - work gets hectic, a sudden cold snap of weather in the second half of January, or sometimes life just gets in the way of what you want, and your goals get pushed aside for the time being. The most likely time scale for sticking to New Year's resolutions seems to be the following:

75% of people making resolutions, such as going to the gym, stick to them for no longer than one week.
A little later in the year, a further 10% will have given up on their goals.
Of the remaining 15%, regardless of the resolutions they've made, they don't manage to make a start at all.

Turn Your New Year's Resolutions Into Attainable Goals

Tackling your goals in the new year seems easy when motivation and determination are at an all time high. However, once reality sets in, it can be quite a different story altogether. The following tips could help you to avoid dropping out of your goals in the second or third week of January and keep motivation high, as well as getting you off on the right track to success: :

1. Aim High

Setting a pretty big goal, such as reaching your ideal weight, might feel too difficult to achieve at first. But think about how you would feel if you finished the year having lost 80% of the weight you wanted to lose? By breaking your goals down into more manageable sized chunks, you can focus on what you can more realistically achieve, instead of dwelling on what you might fail to do.

2. Remind Yourself How Well You're Doing

New Year's resolutions are famous for being forgotten about quickly. But with a reminder system in place, this need not signal the end of any hard work you've already put in. Set up a weekly or monthly check-in by setting a reminder on your phone, diary or electronic calendar; and add a few words of motivation to keep you in the zone.

3. Get Your Friends and Family Involved

Life threatening illnesses due to smoking and obesity are on the rise. Partnering up with those you care about can motivate and support the whole group towards swapping their unhealthy choices for healthier ones.

What's the Secret to Staying On Track?

Putting a clear and well thought out plan in place is the first step to getting past the danger area of giving up, and some of the following tips could also help you to stay on track:

Keep a Diary

Recording the highs and lows of achieving your goals can highlight the areas where you need to improve, and track your progress effectively.

Set Specific Targets

If you have something clear to work towards, then you won't be so easily tempted by distractions that knock you off the rails.

Create Time Frames

If reaching a specific target is taking longer than you thought, review the goal and break it down if necessary.

Be Realistic about your Goals

If losing weight is your priority, aim for a healthy weight and don't be tempted to take it too far.

Get Smart With Your Goals!

In days of old, New Year's resolutions began with being moral; treating others well and being a good person. Today, January is a time for looking back on the previous year and going forward with the intention of improving on that.

Smart goal planning begins with asking yourself where you want to be with your goals in thirty days; and at the end of those thirty days, look back on how you got there and how you can use that information to map the next target of your goal. Failing to hit the mark need not signal the end of your resolutions, as all too often the business of life, together with its stresses and distractions, means that good intentions can waver. Start again, and don't let it weigh you down.

With so much advice about how to achieve success in your goals, it's easy to feel bogged down by the detail. Setting realistic targets to help you up the goal ladder is by far one of the easiest ways of getting there. But sometimes, all that's required is to simply replace old habits with new ones.