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I’ll admit it. I’ve only ever had one good New Year’s Resolution: to floss every day. That was two years ago and I still do it. Go me, for running a piece of string through the holes in my mouth every 24 hours. It sounds basic, but damn it, I’m proud. Every other year I’ve managed to fail my one goal of the year except 2011—the Year of the Bieber. Apparently I’m not the only one flaking out. According to Forbes, just 8% of people actually achieve their resolution. That means 92% of you who try, fail. Also, 60% of you didn’t even step up to the plate and even make a resolution because you knew you were going to strike out. Well, I’m here to help. 2014 can be your personal success story, no matter how arbitrary that success may be. Avoid these common mistakes and you’re on the path to success. At least until February.
Don’t Talk About It
Remember that January 2nd when you were on the edge of your seat listening to your coworker go on and on about how she wanted to lose three pounds this year? Probably not, because you were thinking of all the ways that you could get away with murdering that person. You’re too good looking to do time, and murder is hard. Or so I’ve heard. Talking about your goals is actually negatively correlated with achieving your goals. NYU psychologist Peter Gollwitzer claims that a friend’s congratulations for setting a goal can feel just as good as a friend’s congratulations for achieving that goal. Probably better because it doesn’t involve you running 26.2 miles. I’m talking about you, marathon crazies. I’m not even impressed by you. All you do is move at a slow pace for a long time. I do that every day. Stop talking about it.
Don’t Make It Too Difficult
Do you really want to go to the gym five days a week? Do you really want to eat healthier? Both of those sound miserable to me. The point of a New Year’s Resolution is to kick off the best year of your life, not start a year of starvation and overworked sweat glands. The easier your goal is, the easier it is to achieve. Trust me, I went to college. And what makes you happier than achieving goals? Difficulty is just details. Besides, going to the gym five days a week is an impossible goal. What if you get sick? Or injured? Or Netflix releases a new season of Arrested Development?
Don’t Make It Too Specific
If your goal is to consume no more than 2,000 calories a day for 365 days, you’ve eliminated any margin for error and all hopes for happiness. I mean, that 2,001st calorie makes you a walking failure. Even if it’s fruit. A better goal would be to cut down the average number of calories you consume a day. Doesn’t matter how much, just cut it back by one a day and you win 2014. Or better yet, keep eating and make your goal to see the world. Doesn’t matter what part, just open your eyes on New Year’s Day and you’re looking at her.
Don’t Make It About Something You Can’t Control
Seeing a sunrise every day sounds like an easy, broad goal. Yet there are so many factors that you can’t control that can make this goal impossible: clouds, rain, living on the west coast, wanting to sleep in. Keep it realistic. A much better goal would be wanting to see the sunrise every day. You don’t have to fret about weather, get up early, or even go outside. You’re in total control.
2014 is your year. Go you.