Making New Year’s resolutions is a time-honored tradition synonymous with this holiday, just like fireworks, parades, and toasting with champagne at midnight. Many people want to make a new start with a new year. Studies have shown that almost half of Americans make New Year’s resolutions. However, it seems to be almost as much of a tradition to fail in achieving these goals. A study of 3000 people found that only 12% had accomplished their resolutions by the end of the year. Let’s look at some of the most popular resolutions, and how you can give yourself a better chance of succeeding in reaching these goals:
How can I make good New Year’s resolutions?
You’ll have a much better chance of achieving your New Year’s resolutions if you follow these rules when making them. Remember the word SMART. The letters of the word stand for:
- Specific: State your resolution in terms of what, why, when, where, and how you will achieve your goal.
- Measurable: The progress of achieving your resolution can be objectively measured.
- Action-oriented: The resolution requires a clear plan of action. This means that your resolution should include how you will reach your goal, not just the end result.
- Realistic: The achievement of the resolution must be possible. In the excitement and optimism the new year brings, it’s important not to aim too high. If your goal is very difficult or nearly impossible to achieve, it’s easy to become disillusioned and give up too early.
- Time-driven: You should be able to schedule specific times to work on fulfilling your resolution. This helps you to prioritize your efforts over other activities in your life.
What are the most popular New Year’s resolutions?
The most popular New Year’s resolutions generally fall into the following categories. Let’s consider each one and explore how applying the SMART criteria can increase your chances of success:
Embrace Personal Growth:
Personal Growth Resolutions: Resolutions that contribute to personal development are some of the most popular. Often these resolutions involve improving emotional, intellectual, or spiritual well- being. As always, you will have a much higher chance of success if the resolution follows the SMART plan. You might resolve to start meditating, for example. This practice requires a lot of self-discipline, so ensure it is specific, measurable, and time-driven: “I resolve to meditate for at least 20 minutes every other day.”
Learning a New Language: Learning a new language is a powerful resolution for the New Year. It has been scientifically validated that learning a new language has numerous cognitive benefits, such as creating more flexible pathways in the brain. These give a person an advantage in other areas, as well as helping to delay age-related memory problems. Knowledge of more than one language is also considered a highly important skill for employers and academic admissions committees. Many people who make this resolution will attempt to learn the new language on their own. While this seems a good option given the resources available online, you’ll have a much better result if you enroll in an English course at a highly-rated English school.
Start living a healthier lifestyle:
Benefits of Fitness Resolutions: When you successfully follow through on a fitness resolution you’ll experience many benefits. You’ll feel more energetic and may even add some healthy years to your life. Numerous studies have shown that regular exercise can have positive effects on the brain. And of course, you’ll feel more confident when people notice your new look.
Getting Fit: Many people make fitness resolutions in terms of some weight loss goal, such as “I resolve to lose 20 pounds this year.” Real-world observation has shown that this type of resolution doesn’t have a high rate of follow-through or success. Instead, create your resolution in action-oriented terms of how you plan to lose weight. For example, you might resolve to do cardio exercises for at least 30 minutes, four times a week. Even better, decide on which specific days you will exercise. Before fixing the resolution in your mind, take a step back and consider if it’s realistic. It’s sometimes more effective to start with a plan that’s easy and increase the time and frequency over the year. For example, you could decide to set a goal of adding five minutes to each cardio session every month. It’s important that you also think about other aspects of your lifestyle to make sure that you don’t sabotage your desired result. If the goal is to lose weight, you might, in addition to an exercise resolution, make a resolution about your diet. Again, this should be specific and realistic, such as “I resolve to use only olive oil dressings instead of creamy salad dressings.” This can apply to any healthy lifestyle goal, such as increasing endurance, feeling more energetic, etc.
Develop New Skills and Abilities:
Importance of Skill Development: Acquiring new skills and abilities brings many benefits, both now and in the future. Continuous learning keeps one looking ahead and feeling positive about life in general. People who are always learning enjoy increased neuroplasticity, which is the ability of the brain to adapt to new situations and challenges. This brings not only short-term benefits, but can also significantly delay age-related mental difficulties.
Learning a New Skill: While you might consider a program of self-study for the new year, you’ll greatly increase your chances of success if you attend a class in your area of interest. This gives you a more specific goal and schedule to follow. For example, if one of your resolutions is to eat healthier, you could take a class in cooking nutritious low calorie meals. If you would like to develop your English skills in the new year, taking intensive English classes or semi-intensive English classes will give you a confidence-boosting feeling of achievement. An accent reduction course can also be a great New Year’s plan to help you communicate more clearly in English.
Explore the World:
Benefits of Travel Resolutions: Making and following through on a travel resolution has many benefits. You’ll have something to look forward to as you go through your daily routine. The change of place and culture can also increase your appreciation of home when you return. Finally, having a wider cultural perspective demonstrates you can adapt to change. This is a quality that many employers and university admissions departments seek in successful applicants.
Planning Adventures: Planning travel can be stressful, leading you to giving up on your resolution to explore unfamiliar places. You can encourage success in your travel goals if you combine them with another resolution, such as learning a new language, or improving your skills in one you already know. You can take an English language course at one of several fascinating locations so you’ll be fulfilling your resolution to explore a new culture while adding to your language skills.
Benefits of Financial Resolutions: Resolutions for improving one’s finances are some of the most common resolutions made. Better control of one’s finances has a wide range of benefits, such as giving a sense of security, reducing cash flow anxieties, and cutting down on over-all expenses by avoiding the costs of interest on credit card purchases and loans.
Saving Money: As always, it’s important to make resolutions that are positive, measurable and realistic. A resolution such as “I resolve to save more money this year” has little chance of success because it is simply too vague. The odds of success are much better if you can identify what you’ve been spending too much money on and form a positive resolution about how you’ll save that amount of money. For example, if you estimate that you spend $200 a month on new clothes or technical gear, state your resolution like this: “I resolve to put $100 a month of my clothing/tech gear spending into a savings account or certificate of deposit.” This is both specific and positive. It also has the advantage of not completely changing this part of your lifestyle, since you are still allowing yourself to spend $100. Resolutions that require only a partial change in behavior have been shown to be much easier to achieve. You can also combine resolutions for financial wellness with other areas of improvement. You might resolve to spend half of your dining out budget on a gym membership or personal training. Or, you could resolve to divert some of your usual spending on entertainment to tuition for a class that could increase your employment and earning potential. Investing in an English course would be a great choice here, as second-language skills are highly desired by employers and can result in a significantly higher salary (even if the language is not used in daily work). Look for a school that offers a variety of course options so you can choose classes that will best fit your needs.
Common challenges in resolutions and how to overcome them: We’ve already discussed some of the common mistakes people make when establishing their New Year’s resolutions. Using the SMART acronym when creating resolutions is a great way to increase your chances of fulfilling them. Here are some other dos and don’ts to keep in mind as you plan for a new year working towards a better life:
- Don’t make too many resolutions: If you make too many resolutions, you will probably lose focus, and may forget to take the actions needed to succeed. Many people lead a very busy life, and adding an excessive number of resolutions can result in overload.
- Do make supporting resolutions if needed: On the other hand, consider how you might need to make one or two resolutions to support another one. For example, if you resolve to get more fit by exercising more, you might want to add another resolution to change your diet. As always, remember to keep your resolutions SMART (Specific, Measurable, Action-oriented, Realistic, and Time-driven). If you find you now have an unmanageable number of resolutions, pick the most important one AND its supporting resolutions, while leaving the others for another time.
- Avoid self-sabotage: While it’s important to be specific in your resolutions, you do need to be careful to consider how they fit into your life as a whole. In this way you can avoid actions that undermine the success of the resolutions. For example, a good specific resolution about finances would be to stop buying things with a credit card. However, if you then buy a car on monthly payments, you will have canceled any benefit from the resolution.
- Don’t do it alone: You’ll find it much easier and enjoyable to work towards your resolutions when you have some support. Family, friends, co-workers and others can really help you to overcome any resistance to acquiring a new habit. You can also enjoy more success if you consult with professionals who can guide you in reaching your goal more efficiently. Taking an intensive or semi-intensive English course with experienced teachers will make fulfilling your New Year’s language goals enjoyable and efficient.
- Do tell others about your resolutions: Let important people in your life know about your resolutions. You can provide mutual support to each other, and also provide a kind of informal accountability.
- Do celebrate milestones along the way to completion: You should definitely NOT take an “all-or-nothing” attitude when you work towards accomplishing your New Year’s resolutions. For example, if you’ve reached your first quarter goal of increasing your workout time, reward yourself. Self-rewarding has to be done carefully to avoid self-sabotage, so if you’re rewarding yourself on partial achievement of a fitness goal, don’t gorge on desserts. Instead, buy yourself new shoes, a fitness tracker, or some other kind of workout gear. If your resolution is to improve your English level, a professionally designed course at a recognized school will give you the kind of regular encouragement that will inspire you to move forward.
You’ll be more committed to following through on your New Year’s resolutions if you follow the SMART plan. Make sure your resolutions are specific, measurable, action-oriented, realistic, and time-driven. One of the most practical New Year’s resolutions is to improve your English language skills. You can also easily combine this with other common resolutions like exploring a new culture first-hand and setting better priorities for spending. So, to keep your language learning resolution SMART, enroll for an English language course that fits your individual needs.
Ring in the New Year with an interesting and enjoyable English course, and resolve to make a better future for yourself in the New Year!