I’ve always loved New Year’s. Starting fresh with the change of the calendar year just makes me want to write up a bunch of goals and become a better me. And isn’t that a beautiful thing?
As much as I hate to admit it, though, I’m not always the best at following through with those goals—and statistics show I’m not alone. According to a recent study from the University of Scranton, more than 40 percent of people who make New Year’s resolutions have given up on them by February. Ugh.
It’s not hard to believe: Once you “cheat” and break from pursuing a resolution for even one day, it’s easy to make excuses for continuing to do so. But Samantha Siffring, a coach at Blush Online Life Coaching for Girls, says it doesn’t have to be that way. “One bad decision—or even a lot of bad decisions—doesn’t have to derail you,” she says. “At any point, you can make the decision to turn the car around and get back on track.”
So, if you’re already feeling a tad discouraged about following through with your 2016 resolutions, have no fear. With Siffring’s help, we’ve rounded up five easy ways to get motivated to stick with your goals.
[Related: 5 Toxic Habits to Drop in 2016]
1. Ask yourself why you chose your resolution in the first place.
It sounds simple enough, but asking yourself why you chose to pursue this resolution, specifically, is an important first step in achieving your goal. If the reason you chose this resolution was because it would please your mom/all your friends were doing it/it sounded good, consider scrapping it and moving on to something you really want to accomplish. “If you’re not motivated enough internally, your goal is going to be a lot harder to achieve,” Siffring says.
2. Make your resolution more specific.
Siffring says one of the biggest reasons why we’re unable to follow through with our New Year’s resolutions is that they’re often super vague. “Let’s say your goal is to get more involved with networking,” she says. “That’s an awesome headline, but what do you really mean? Do you want to find a mentor, or just make general connections? If your resolution is too vague, it can seem really overwhelming.” So, drill down to what you really hope to achieve, and the path to making your resolution a reality will suddenly become much clearer.
3. Break down your resolution into small, actionable goals.
Once you’ve clarified your goal, Siffring says the next step is to break down your resolution into smaller actions that will be easier to achieve. (Think #31DaysofHustle-style.) Take the networking example: First, you might decide to spend an evening researching networking events in your area. Then, you might build a schedule with five networking events that you’re interested in per month. After that, you might make it a goal to get new business cards printed before the first event on your schedule, and so on. Sounds easy-peasy, right? Plus, every time you check one of those smaller goals off your list, you’ll feel accomplished, and that will serve as even more motivation to keep going.
4. Become more invested in your resolution.
If internal motivation alone just isn’t doing it for you, consider investing a little more in your success—literally. “If the initial goal isn’t working well enough, an additional layer of financial motivation might,” Siffring explains. “If you pay to be part of a networking organization or for a personal trainer, you’re going to show up.” Another way to invest yourself in your resolution? Go public with it. If you’re posting about your progress on social media or regularly talking about it with friends and family, you’ll definitely feel more motivated to follow through.
5. Remind yourself that what works for your best friend might not work for you.
Say you and your friend both decided to get in better shape. Just because you made the same New Year’s resolution doesn’t mean that you can both approach it in the same way and both be successful. Maybe all she needs is a little internal pep talk to get herself to the gym and you need to invest in a personal trainer who will be left hanging if you don’t show, or vice versa—and that’s totally OK. “One of the most important things to keep in mind is that motivation tips are not universal,” Siffring says. “What works for one person might not work for you.” So, find what does work for you—and then go kick some 2016 butt.
Photo: Thomas Barwick / Getty Images