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How To Stick To Your New Year’s Resolutions + Fun Resolution Ideas

Oprah, the wisest women on daytime television, once said, “cheers to a new year and another chance for us to get it right.” And while these may be inspirational words to women across the country, the daytime talk queen forgot to mention one minor detail: getting it right is only half the battle.  

Setting resolutions is one thing, but following through on them is another. In the Psychology Today article, “New Year’s Resolutions: Why They Don’t Stick,” it is reported that only 10% of people stick with their New Year’s resolutions. The battle to actually fulfill your New Year’s resolutions, whether they are big or small, is a 12-month war with procrastination, motivation, and reality.

So in efforts to help you get it right in 2012 and stick to your New Year’s resolutions, Her Campus™ has put together a list of helpful hints on how to make a resolution list and follow through all the way from when the ball drops until 2013 is here.

How to follow through on your resolutions

Make your resolutions stick – literally

This wall of post-it notes might look like a fun project, but actually it is the perfect way to keep track of your New Year’s resolutions in a very visual way. Psychology Today reports that people who wrote down their goals achieved them 97% more often than those who did not. Not only is this visual tool effective, but it is also easy to do.

  1. Write down every resolution you make on individual post-it notes.
  2. Post each note on prime real estate, aka a wall or space you look at every day (suggestions: next to a bathroom mirror, near your fridge, on the door to your closet).
  3. Make a pattern or a big ‘blob’ – it doesn’t matter, just make sure all your resolutions are together.

If you use this system you are guaranteed to remember your resolutions, and in your busy collegiette™ life isn’t that half the battle? The Post-it company follows the motto “keep it simple.” This system, like the sticky notes themselves, keeps your resolutions organized and easy to manage. The collage will be a daily reminder of the goals you have made and will create a visual representation of them that is easy to remember (and hard to ignore). This is a fun, cute, decorative way to remind yourself just how important your goals are.

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Talk about it

The more you talk about something, the more it will stick in your mind. Mention your resolutions casually in a conversation to a friend, or simply look like a crazy person and talk about them out loud to yourself. Thinking about a resolution is fine, but when you actually speak about it you are taking the “doing” part of it one step forward. Before you know it your talk with turn into action and your action will turn into habit.

Quirkology: How We Discover the Big Truths in Small Things by Richard Wiseman evaluates the most effective ways to keep resolutions. He suggests talking about them and “going public”, especially for women who tend to like the influence of a support system. The book recommends you “tell your friends, family and colleagues about your resolution, and ask them to provide you with helpful nudges to assist you in achieving your goal.”

Plan ahead

Some resolutions are simple, but some are a bit more complex. If you have something that involves things like money, travel, or deadlines, then you are going to need to get things in line. Making a step-by-step plan with target completion dates and tasks is the best way to make sure you are thinking everything through. Write this plan down. If you have a physical copy of it you are far more likely to do it and you will be less overwhelmed when starting a big task.

In the book Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, author Stephen Covey emphasizes this strategy.

“All things are created twice. There’s a mental or first creation, and a physical or second creation of all things. You have to make sure that the blueprint, the first creation, is really what you want, that you’ve thought everything through. Then you put it into bricks and mortar. Each day you go to the construction shed and pull out the blueprint to get marching orders for the day. You begin with the end in mind,” Covey writes.

For example, if your resolution is to improve your G.P.A., then you need to map out a plan. The book Ways to Improve Your Study Habits by Stephen Edwards recommends making plans specific to scheduling your time, motivating yourself and rewarding yourself. If part of improving your G.P.A. means raising your scores on papers, you could make this plan to follow this specific schedule for each paper you write.

  1. Start every paper three weeks ahead of the due date.
  2. Have one session with a writing tutor at the student center for each paper you write.
  3. Ask your English major roommate to do a final edit for each of your papers two days before you turn them in.
  4. After a professor returns your graded paper, schedule a sit-down meeting with him or her to discuss what was good and what needs improvement in your work.


Be realistic

Your parents probably always said, “You can do anything you put your mind to!” But let’s be honest here, some things are just not entirely doable in a year’s time. As much as you may want to go on a trip to Paris, your school schedule, financial situation, and other obligations might not let that happen. It doesn’t mean you should stop dreaming, but it does mean you may want to readjust your resolution. If you’ve always dreamed of going to Paris, make it a goal to begin to learn French or find a guide to the best city hostels. If you slowly start building to your big dream, then one day you will be ready to put it on your resolution list and actually have the ability to get it done. It’s all about the building blocks.

For example, if your goal is to eat healthier, don’t kid yourself and say you are going to stop eating sweets altogether. Instead, limit yourself to one cookie a day or three desserts a week. Moderation and not allowing yourself to cheat are key. By giving yourself a bit of leeway, you are helping yourself stick to the goal without going crazy and eventually giving up entirely.

You only get three wishes

That is what the genie always says in fairy tales, but it is true with resolutions too. You can (and should) set big goals, goals that you have to push yourself to achieve, but make sure you choose your battles. Pick three resolutions that you are slightly doubtful you will be able to accomplish, call them your “stretch-resolutions,” and then start going after them right away. If you pick any more than three of this type, chances are you won’t succeed. But if you keep your “stretch-list” short, you will be able to focus on them and have a chance.

In Covey’s book he recommends focusing most of your attention on these big goals.

“You have to decide what your highest priorities are and have the courage—pleasantly, smilingly, nonapologetically, to say ‘no’ to other things. And the way you do that is by having a bigger ‘yes’ burning inside.” 

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Following all of this advice isn’t too difficult, but coming up with the perfect New Year’s resolutions can be a daunting challenge. So in order to make sure you don’t get caught some place between a plan to stick to your resolutions and an unfinished list, here are some rockin’ resolution recommendations from Her Campus ™ and other collegiettes™ from across the country for you to use in 2011.

  • Take a spur-of-the-moment road trip with a friend. Get out of town and get on the road. Use it as an excuse to visit an out-of-state event/site or simply get lost and see what you find. Sometimes the best trips happen when there is no set plan to follow.

  • Only check Facebook two times a day. We promise, you can do it. It’s time to prove to yourself Mark Zuckerberg does not control your life.
  • Look at your extended group of friends and pick one of them to become closer to. You work hard to surround yourself with great people, but you might not always get a chance to really get to know all of them. Find that one person who deserves more of your time and you might end up realizing how much more her friendship really has to offer.
  • Kiss 20 boys before the end of the semester. If you are single why not? Notice we said kiss, that’s it. Feel free to adjust this number if you’re a little more conservative.
  • Take reality television to the next level. Get off the couch and take part in one of your favorite shows. Stand in line at American Idol, walk the runway for Tyra and America’s Next Top Model, or attempt to shake your stuff for So You Think You Can Dance. Even if you don’t have the talent, your story will probably be worth the time spent standing in line.
  • Academically challenge yourself. Take one class, whether it is an actual college credit class or just a weekend seminar that you learn something new in. We get stuck in our majors and stuck trying to figure out how to try to get ahead, sometimes just learning something for the fun of knowing something new is actually worth your time. Take a photography class, a lab to learn a new computer program or even just a one-time lesson at a local art studio.
  • Compliment yourself more. People are naturally very hard on themselves even when they really shouldn’t be. When you do something good make sure to recognize it.
  • Learn how to tie a tie. It is amazing just how many college boys don’t know how to tie their own ties. When your formal date comes to your door needing help, you will impress the heck out of him if you can tie the perfect Windsor knot while wearing your strapless dress and stilettos.
  • Kiss and don’t tell. Keep a secret to yourself for an entire year; it’s fun to know something no one else does.

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Here are some great resolutions from college girls across the country!

My resolution is to not let other people tell me how to live my life, but instead to do what I feel is going to make me be true to myself. – Nicole Newell, University of Missouri

I want to stop biting my nails. – Rachel Pennington, Illinois Wesleyan University

My New Years resolution is keeping promises to myself and not letting myself off the hook. – Rachel Cox, University of Missouri

I want to learn how to cook. For the last four years of my life, I have been lucky enough to either live with my sorority sisters or housemates that pitied my cooking inability in the frozen tundra that is Houghton, Michigan. I will soon be living completely on my own and I will be forced to entertain myself by learning how to cook. – Dani Revord, Michigan Technical University

My diet actually starts tomorrow. – Katie Lanesey, Ohio State University

Whenever I have a compliment for someone I am going to tell them. So instead of saying “So friend, so-and-so’s new dress is so cute,” I would actually just tell the person. – Taylor Allen, University of Missouri 
 

Did we forget a good piece of New Year’s resolution advice? Let us know in the comments section below and don’t forget to share your New Year’s resolutions as well!

Sources

7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey

Ways To Improve Your Study Habits: 50 Plus One by Stephen Stephen Edwards

Quirkology by Richard Wiseman

Psychology Today, “New Year’s Resolutions: Why They Don’t Stick” http://www.psychologytoday.com/node/36639 and “Goals Are a Relationship Necessity – Here Are 10 Tools to Help” http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/emotional-fitness/201010/goals-are-relationship-necessity-here-are-10-tools-help

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Amanda Klohmann is a senior at the University of Missouri, class of 2011, studying Convergence Journalism with an emphasis in Online Journalism. Born in St. Louis, Missouri Amanda is attending college only a few hours from home, but loves to travel and get out of the Midwest. Amanda spent last summer living in New York City interning with Sports Illustrated Kids and last winter break studying in Europe touring media companies. Amanda's friends call her el Presidente (as a joke) because she is the current president of Delta Gamma Sorority and Mizzou Womens Club Soccer. She loves working out, tailgating for football games, tweeting and always making a scene with her friends in her small college town.
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