New Year’s resolutions can be like a jolt of energy for all the new habits and routines that you’ve been telling yourself you’re going to start for the last six months — even during a pandemic.
Going into 2021, 43% of Americans are planning to make New Year’s resolutions, according to a recent survey of 2,000 U.S. adults conducted by The Harris Poll on behalf of CIT Bank. That’s an increase from the 35% of Americans who reported making resolutions for 2020.
But keeping those resolutions going throughout the year can be challenging. Last year, just 7% of Americans said they stuck to all of their resolutions, according to a YouGov survey.
To help you come up with goals that you can keep this year, CNBC Make It asked author Jen Sincero, who just published “Badass Habits: Cultivate the Awareness, Boundaries, and Daily Upgrades You Need to Make Them Stick,” for advice on how to create successful resolutions from the start. Here are her top three tips.
1. Keep it manageable
“One of the main mistakes that we make is we bite off more than we can chew,” Sincero tells CNBC Make It. Let’s say that you want to adopt the habits of someone who is financially successful. That’s great: You want to take control of your finances and build wealth. But you can’t go from broke to rich overnight, unless you win the lottery or experience an unexpected windfall.
Instead, keep your resolutions manageable and build on each successful step. Maybe you want to start building an emergency savings fund. You don’t need to contribute $1,000 out of every paycheck. Instead, plan to take a few dollars here or there and add them to your savings account.
“You can have grand goals, but you’ve got to start small or you are going to just fall off that wagon so quickly,” Sincero says.
2. Be specific
Another big misstep: Having vague goals. If you want to get healthier in 2020, you need to quantify what you want to do and quantify how you want to accomplish it. The more specific you get, the better, Sincero says.
Let’s say that you want to drink more water. That’s good. But even better, pledge something like this: “During the first week of January, I am going to drink three 8-ounce glasses of water a day.”
“You can implement little steps each day, but you’ve got to get specific about what you’re going to do,” Sincero says.
3. ‘Chunk stuff down’
If you have a big goal for 2021, make sure you break it into multiple steps. Sincero recommends starting by “chunking it down.” By that, she means using shorter time frames to build up to the big goal. If you want to stop drinking, maybe it’s saying to yourself, ‘I won’t drink today.’ Or, if you’re trying to save money, it can be as simple as saving a dollar a day.
There’s a reason that “take it one day at a time” is such a popular phrase, she says. “If you think of the whole year that you don’t get to drink, that’s so heavy if it’s a really big part of your life. But every day that you wake up, it’s like, ‘I’m just going to do it for one more day.’ Your brain can handle that,” Sincero says.