HOW TO INCREASE YOUR ODDS OF KEEPING YOUR NEW YEAR'S RESOLUTION

  1. Make a Specific resolution.
    What does "I will be tidier" or "I will drink more water" actually look like, practically? How will you know if you've achieved it or are making progress? These are important for maintaining motivation, which may be the single most important factor in whether we keep our resolutions.
  2. Make a Measurable resolution.
    Along similar lines, think about breaking down your goal into manageable chunks. And make your specific resolution something you can measure: can you order and pay in a restaurant in Rome using only Italian? Have you read 25 books? You want to get to the end of your year knowing whether or not you can check off the goal and whether you should raise the bar next year.
  3. Make an Achievable resolution.
    Set yourself up for success! Baby steps are key: don't aim to go from zero knowledge of a language to fluency in one year, or cut your Facebook time down from 3 hours a day to 3 minutes a week. You can always go beyond your original goal if it's too easy. It's far more motivating that way round.
  4. Make a Realistic resolution.
    Take a look at your life and what is actually possible. If you're having a baby in January, chances are you're not going to read 200 books by May. Be kind to yourself.
  5. Make a Timetabled resolution.
    Break your resolution down into steps, with intermediate goals each month. And yes - this all handily breaks down to the acronym SMART.
  6. Enlist friends to help!
    Ask friends to ask you how it's going - and not just in January, but throughout the year. Offer to reciprocate with whatever their goal is.
  7. Know why you are doing it.
    Motivation is key. The buzz of newness will only carry you so far - probably only as far as the second week of January. But if you're starting a novel because you want to be published before you're 30, or if you're learning Greek so you can communicate with your fiancé's family at your wedding, that's added impetus. Dig deep if motivation isn't immediately obvious; think about why this resolution is important to you. Write out inspirational quotes! Whatever works.