Once again, it’s that time of year when we make a promise to ourselves to stick with our diets and exercise regimens, spend less money, become better organized with our credit cards, or manage our time better, just to name a few.

We start the new year with really good intentions, revved up with motivation.  Gradually, though, our level of motivation diminishes as the year goes on and can become nonexistent.

Research suggests that approximately half of all Americans make New Year’s resolutions. Of those who do, only eight percent actually achieves their New Year’s resolutions (Forbes, 2016). What is making it so difficult for us to follow through on our resolutions?  Why do we lose motivation halfway through the process?

Perhaps the answer to those questions liea in the strategy or approach used to accomplish such a goal (resolution). 

When it comes to goal setting, many use the S.M.A.R.T method as a guideline. That acronym stands for setting specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, time-based goals.  Instead, I recommend the H.A.R.D. method, which can be equally effective, and may even increase your chances of staying fully committed to your resolution for much longer. 

The following explains the H.A.R.D resolutions approach:

  • Heartfelt:  A resolution should be something that means more to you and is more important than other things.  For example, if weight loss is your resolution or goal, consider your reason behind wanting to attain this goal. What would it mean for you to lose weight? How will it enhance your quality of life? Then be specific about what you want, and even more specific regarding the steps you will take to get there (i.e. “I will go to the gym 3 times a week, watch what I eat, and lose 20 pounds by May 2017”).
  • Animated: Resolutions should be vivid and alive in your mind. One way to maintain motivation is to make your resolution noticeable -- to yourself and others.  Write it down on paper. Get fancy with it. Add color and designs to your creation. This way you now have something visual to focus on every day.  Lastly, find a spot to hang your creation so that you are able to look at it daily as a constant reminder of what you are doing and why you are doing it.
  • Realistic: Consider where you are in your life, and ask yourself if your goal is something that can be accomplished. For example, one might resolve in January to be out of debt by March. This may be attainable if your debt is not too high.  However, if it is on the high side, you may want to consider the time it took to accumulate your debt and give yourself time to repair it while also being responsible for your other monthly debts.
  • Difficult:  Resolutions should challenge you.  A word of caution however.  You do not want your resolution to be so difficult that you eventually give up trying. 

Be balanced in your decision when choosing a resolution, and recognize that obstacles and setbacks will occur throughout your journey.  Keeping a logbook and reaching out for support through family and friends or resources like www.getorganizedwizard.comcan also help you stay on track and committed to your New Year’s Resolution.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Cerena Reid-Maynard, MSW, LICSW

Cerena Reid-Maynard, MSW, LICSW is a licensed clinical therapist. She earned her bachelor’s and master’s degree in social work at Rhode Island College. Reid-Maynard works at Rhode Island Hospital’s Adult Partial Program where she provides therapy in group settings, as well as individually. She can be reached at 401-444-5081.