Before we get drawn back into every day life, the first few days of each new year make us reflect about the future. What do we want to have achieved by the end of the year? What are we able to achieve in the year to come? How ambitious do we dare to be?
About 95% of Britons make New Year's resolutions. Yet by the end of January, some estimates say that as many as 88% will have given up on trying to change habits and already forgotten their resolutions.
We're often inspired to make New Year's resolutions to be healthier, happier, and to do more to help others. Goals such as these could change many lives for the better. So how can we make sure that by the end of the year we have reached them? How can we avoid being one of the many who quickly gives up on their resolutions?
Top tips for keeping your New Year's resolutions
1. Tell others about it
The more public you make your resolution, the more accountability you create and support you'll receive. As you make progress let your friends know, so they can be impressed and inspired by your determination.
To go one step further, try to reach your goals together with someone else to keep motivation high. Have a resolution to get fit? Why not get a gym buddy or a running partner?
2. Create resolutions that matter
In 2011 author Judith O’Reilly realised that by the time she got to February each year, her resolutions were forgotten. So she decided to start the new year with a resolution that really mattered. She would do one good deed every day, for a whole year. Although it wasn't always easy, she learnt that "there are hundreds of opportunities to do nice things.” Her good deeds had an unexpected benefit: “Scientists talk about the 'helper’s high' and suddenly I got it - doing good made me feel good,” she explained.
3. Make it easy
While we might start the new year with grand aspirations, as the year goes on it can be very easy to make excuses and not do what we have set out to do. This is why it helps to make it as easy as possible to reach your goals. For instance, if your resolution is to help those in need, or give more to charity, you could set up a direct-debit. This means that after the initial set-up, there is no extra effort involved and your resolution will be achieved. One example would be to start a child sponsorship in January, and support a vulnerable child in the months to come.
4. Turn your resolution into mini-goals
Create a plan for how to achieve your resolution, and break it into easy-to-achieve steps. You can make specific and realistic mini-goals, with their own deadlines. Each week or month track your progress, and reward yourself when you've achieved them.
5. Link your resolutions to a cause
To stay motivated, link your resolutions to a cause that you care about. If your resolution is to stop smoking or give up another vice, you could donate the money you save to charity, knowing the good that it will do. If your resolution is to be more active, you could do a sports challenge for charity. If it's to be more involved in your community, you could organise a fundraising event. We have plenty of fundraising ideas on our Get Involved pages.
6. Remind yourself why it's important to you
Usually, we create a New Year's resolution because we have realised that we need to make changes in our life. Keep focused on these reasons, which speak to what we care about, what's important to us, and why. By reminding ourselves of this, we can face each day with the same determination we started the year with.
New Year's resolutions from children in South Africa
Pumeza, a 13-year old girl living in SOS Children's Village Mthatha in South Africa, explains what her ambitious New Year's resolutions are:
“This year I am planning on being a totally different person. I'll start by being dedicated to my school work. Playing all kinds of sports and attending groups. I'm also thinking of opening a girl's group where we will chat about serious matters as girls.
I'm going to be a very serious person this year and not think of what other people say but live for myself. I'm going to be very well behaved and will not lose my self-control. For a change, I am going to trust myself. I'm also going to face all the challenges I meet on my way to success.”
Pilasande is 12 years old and also from Mthatha in South Africa. He says:
“My resolution is to sing because I want to do something for those who have done good things for me, for example my grandmother and SOS mother. The reason I want to sing is to pass a message about HIV. I also want to be a president and stop the killing in South Africa and stop HIV!”
Pumeza and Pilasande live in an SOS Children's Village, and are supported by child sponsors. If you're searching for a meaningful and easy-to-keep resolution, have you considered sponsoring a child? You can set up the sponsorship online today, and give a child who has been orphaned and abandoned a new family home and the support they need to thrive. Updates throughout the year let you see the impact your resolution is making. Find out why child sponsorship is a New Year's resolution you'll keep.
We wish Pumeza and Pilasande in South Africa, and you, the best of luck in keeping this year's resolutions - however ambitious, or modest, they may be.