Keeping difficult New Year’s resolutions may challenge and exasperate you. Sometimes, you may find yourself setting goals that are simply too lofty to reach realistically, and by the end of the year, you may end up feeling frustrated and guilty about your lack of success. Before you make your next round of New Year’s resolutions, plan carefully to help ensure that you can reach your goals.

1. Make Attainable and Specific Goals

Before you start writing down your New Year’s resolutions, think about past resolutions you attempted to keep. Analyze your successes and failures as you think about your future resolutions. For example, if you’ve constantly set weight-loss goals that you haven’t been able to reach, try to change the scope of your goal: instead of focusing on losing a specific number of pounds in a year, change your habits in other measurable and important ways. If you don’t exercise currently, make it a goal to run three times a week. Alternatively, you can set a goal to skip junk food three days each week. These smaller resolutions will offer a good challenge without frustrating you.

You should also craft specific resolutions that you can monitor easily to gauge your progress. For example, if you make a goal to spend more time with your family, you’ll probably have a difficult time monitoring your progress. If, however, you plan to spend 30 minutes each day participating in an activity with your family, you’ll find it easy to keep track of the amount of time spent with them. Using this method, you can even create graphs and charts to help you mark your successes throughout the year. Keeping this visual reminder around will help you stay focused on your resolutions.

2. Share Your Resolutions

If you want some additional help with your New Year’s resolutions, involve the people closest to you. By sharing your goals publicly, your friends and family members can help keep you accountable. In addition, your loved ones can act as your support network. If you ever feel frustrated by slow progress on your resolutions, ask your loved ones for help. At home, consider placing your written goals on your fridge, and ask your family members to inquire about your progress regularly.

For even more help with your goals, you can try planning some resolutions with your family. You can make many of the typical New Year’s resolutions more fun and enjoyable by including your loved ones, like encouraging your family to join you in your plan to eat three servings of vegetables a day. You can also work together to try out new recipes for dinners and snacks.

3. Reward Yourself

To stay motivated throughout the year, you must reward yourself for each benchmark you reach. If you’re trying to cut your spending habits, reward yourself after a successful month of budgeting. Don’t let your reward undermine your progress on your goal, however: in this case, select an affordable reward to motivate you, such as a day at the beach with your family.

As you craft your list of New Year’s resolutions, you should also take the time to think about rewards for the goals you reach. Create a list of benchmarks that you plan to reach as you work through your resolutions, with each benchmark having a small prize associated with it. You can plan a bigger reward for each resolution you manage to maintain successfully through the year. Creating a list of rewards will help you stay motivated, especially when you feel close to giving up on your resolutions. Keep your list in a handy place so that you can refer to it occasionally for motivation.

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