1. Get started: Procrastination – putting off tasks – can be the enemy of achieving goals. A good first step can be as simple as getting started by making a plan and putting time in your diary to work on New Year resolutions. An eZonomics video on the cost of procrastination explains further.
2. Write it down: Once you’ve made your resolution, write it down. It might be a note in your diary, on the refrigerator, in your mobile phone or on the computer. Either way, there is an argument that writing goals down can make them more real – and therefore may boost the chances of achieving them.
3. Remind yourself: If your parents kept nagging you to pick up your washing from the floor when you were growing up, they were on to something. Nagging works. For savers, frequent reminders can help boost bank balances, according to research in which banks sent customers text message reminders of their savings goals. Such reminders may be able to assist in a variety of goals, with a study in esteemed medical journal The Lancet showing a link for smokers who want to quit.
4. Set up rewards (and penalties): Telling friends and family about New Year resolutions can be a good way to boost motivation to reach the goals. After all, pride is now on the line. A way to up the stakes is to make an agreement to determine a reward gifted if the goal is achieved – as well as a penalty if it is not achieved. Such commitment contracts can be set up on website stickK, co-founded by behavioural economist Ian Ayres.
5. Agree a deadline: Decide a date when the New Year resolution should be achieved. Putting a timeframe around a goal can also help it seem more real, again boosting the chances of success. Regularly monitor progress towards the goal – checking, for example, that halfway to deadline sufficient progress has been made.