The No-Nonsense Guide To Keeping Your New Year’s Resolutions

Not everyone believes in the power of new beginnings. However, those who can use the magic of new year’s resolutions to their advantage are bound to fight an uphill battle. Lose weight. Become filthy rich. Get a new job. These are just some of the promises we tell ourselves before we lose sight of them a few weeks after the turn of the year.

This time let’s take the power of new year’s resolutions back and make them happen. Regardless of your goals for 2021, you need to learn how to use all the resources around you to turn your dreams into reality. Are you ready to finally make them happen? Then go over this no-frills guide on how to keep your promises this new year.

Break down your goals

Lose weight. Quit smoking. Stop binging Netflix on weekdays. Usually, these are the most common new year’s resolution you’ll hear from other people. And if only there is a credible survey about people breaking their promises for the new year, then we’re pretty the numbers will be staggering.

Regardless of how grand your dreams are for 2021, you need to learn one crucial thing if you want them to become a reality: you need to make your new year’s resolutions less vague and turn them into actionable objectives. This way, you won’t freestyle your way to your goal.

How does that work? Let’s say your biggest objective for next year is “to become a better person.” As it is, that sounds like a noble goal, but it lacks the laser focus you need; there’s nothing in that statement that will provide you with a solid pathway to your success. If you fail to plan last year, you should definitely do it now.

To flesh out the details of your goal, you need to ask a few questions like these:

  • What are the specific objectives I need to do to say I’ve done it?
  • What is my timetable for these objectives?
  • Who are the people/what are the things I need to make them happen?
  • What are my deficiencies that I need to address?

Once you’re done running your plans through a fine-mesh sieve, you will see that your objectives are now doable and they’re less overwhelming than your original big plan. Also, this kind of planning works with almost everything: saving money, shedding a few pounds, making new friends, learning new skills—you name it.

(Read: If You Really Want To Save Money, Avoid Making These Monthly Excuses)

Make yourself accountable

Accountability may not be the cup of coffee of our politicians, but it doesn’t mean you have to ignore it too. It is, after all, a good way to keep yourself motivated even if the times are trying.

But what is accountability? In a nutshell, it means that you and you alone are responsible for your actions and consequences—both negative and positive. You cannot blame the warm sofa for preventing you from getting up early. You cannot say it’s your partner’s fault that you cheated. At the end of the day, it’s only you.

Now that you have your goals set, the next thing you have to do is to open those goals to yourself and to others. To some people, the best way to become accountable to your actions is to make yourself transparent to people.

However, it is not enough as it doesn’t foster self-reliance and it can be pretty discouraging, they just keep on grilling you every week. Sometimes, all you need is a buddy who will make sure you’re on the right track. Whether it’s a sibling or a spouse or some totally random person from the internet, it’s up to you.

Meanwhile, if you want personal accountability, then you must turn your goals into trackable objectives. Similar to the previous item, you should have a list of your actionable plans with a timetable. This way, you’ll feel more responsible in dealing with your new year’s resolutions.

In addition to being able to monitor your progress, having an account of your successes and failures will present you the avenue to regularly assess yourself. By opening yourself to self-criticism, you’ll be the one responsible in making sure you don’t fall off the wagon. Neat, right?

Learn to incentivize—and penalize

There’s a reason why the phrase “carrot and stick” found its way to our lexicon; it just works, simply put. Although people would argue that penalizing one’s self might be counterproductive, sometimes we need a little motivation to keep things going. Sometimes, that motivation you just need to keep your promises is something draconian.

If the concept is still pretty alien to you, think in terms of time deposit accounts. These types of savings accounts have a fixed term, which means you cannot make money out of it if you prematurely withdraw them. If you pull your money out before it matures, then the banks can impose you with some penalties. However, letting your account reach its tenor before you touch it means that you’ll get rewarded with an interest.

A few years ago, a team of researchers led by Yale professor Dean Karlan tried to figure out how the impoverished Filipinos could achieve their goals without giving in to temptation. To solve this, the researchers created a type of “commitment” savings account where people can specify their goal amount. However, people who invest in this type of account must see their maturity date through or they will be slapped with penalties.

Although the gains were no more than your average savings account, some of the customers who enrolled in the said type of account were able to save more. The research concluded that more than 25 percent of the people who joined the program were able to save 300 percent more in fear of getting punished for premature withdrawal. Safe to say, it was a success for the ones who labored over their goals.

(Read: 6 Great Investments Millennials Should Make Now)

Exploit technology to help reach your goals

Without making a reference to Black Mirror, technology can be a good way to make good to your new year promises. Although tech companies are embattled this year, it doesn’t mean you should abandon them altogether and become a Luddite. After all, technology is just a tool—and tools are defined by how you use them.

To harness the power of your gadgets like smartphones and laptops, let’s go over different ways to use them to your advantage:

  • Find like-minded communities. Message boards have been around for a while. While they’re not as robust and embellished as your messenger’s group chats, they’re perfect for people who need discussion-oriented motivation. For instance, reddit’s r/Fitness community can be a great way to connect with fitness-oriented people. The more spartan the interface is, the less distracted you’ll be.
  • Control your notifications. In this economy of attentions, app developers are more than willing to kill for your attention. To make sure you’re always hooked to their apps, they keep on pinging you with sound and that little red button on their logos. Whether you want to be more productive or you just want your relevant apps to be the ones bugging you, fiddle with your app settings on your phone and turn off all the white noise.
  • Gamify your life. In one of our articles, we talked about the power of Habitica in helping you become more productive. However, Habitica is more than just a good productivity tool; it can also streamline you towards achieving your other goals. In addition to the said app, there are other services that gamify your goals for maximum effort. Multi-purpose apps like SuperBetter and Bounty Tasker also use game mechanics and design to keep you on track with your real-life objectives. Meanwhile, Fitocracy turns working out into a game where your goal is to fight enemies like binge watching or getting in more calories. Challenge Timer is a gamified version of the Pomodoro Technique, complete with a snazzy interface.

There are many ways on how you can turn the tides of technology for you. It’s up to you on how to use the tools around you.

Sources: The Guardian, Poverty, Yaikaichou,