Most of us will make a New Year’s resolution - maybe to lose weight, quit smoking or drink less - but only one in 10 of us will achieve our goal.
Psychologists have found we’re more likely to succeed if we break our resolution into smaller goals that are specific, measurable and time-based.
Professor Richard Wiseman, of the University of Hertfordshire, tracked 5,000 people as they attempted to achieve their New Year’s resolutions.
His team found that those who failed tended not to have a plan, which made their resolution soon feel like a mountain to climb.
Prof Wiseman’s top 10 tips to achieving your goals.
1. Make only one resolution. Your chances of success are greater when you channel energy into changing just one aspect of your behaviour.
2. Don’t wait until New Year’s Eve to think about your resolution and instead take some time out a few days before and reflect upon what you really want to achieve.
3. Avoid previous resolutions. Deciding to revisit a past resolution sets you up for frustration and disappointment.
4. Don’t run with the crowd and go with the usual resolutions. Instead think about what you really want out of life.
5. Break your goal into a series of steps, focusing on creating sub-goals that are concrete, measurable and time-based.
6. Tell your friends and family about your goals. You’re more likely to get support and want to avoid failure.
7. Regularly remind yourself of the benefits associated with achieving your goals by creating a checklist of how life would be better once you obtain your aim.
8. Give yourself a small reward whenever you achieve a sub-goal, thus maintaining motivation and a sense of progress.
9. Make your plans and progress concrete by keeping a handwritten journal, completing a computer spreadsheet or covering a notice board with graphs or pictures.
10. Expect to revert to your old habits from time to time. Treat any failure as a temporary setback rather than a reason to give up altogether.
Prof Wiseman said: “If you are trying to lose weight, it’s not enough to stick a picture of a model on your fridge or fantasise about being slimmer.”