New Year’s Resolutions: Are you setting yourself up for success or failure?

By Emily Murray

Every December, I am one of the millions who dutifully scribble down 10 plus ways I will better myself heading into the New Year. As the old year fades into the new, I check how I have measured up when it comes to my previous promises for self improvement. While perhaps I make more resolutions than most (usually more like 25), I would say I have kept somewhere between 3 and 5. So this year, perhaps rather than making so many resolutions, I will be simply sticking to 3 or 4 really solid and well thought out ones, perhaps this can help you too.

Wonder what other people are resolving for 2011? Here are 11 of the most popular New Year’s Resolutions as listed on

Drink Less Alcohol
Get a Better Education
Get a Better Job
Get Fit
Lose Weight
Manage Debt
Manage Stress
Quit Smoking Now
Save Money
Take a Trip
Volunteer to Help Others

As you can tell, these are very “generic” resolutions which, in fact, sound like they would benefit nearly anyone who chose the ambitious challenge of following these guidelines for better living. So why is it that so many resolutions seem to be recycled and vowed year after year by many of the same individuals?

It’s easy to see these things are beneficial to increase health and happiness, but it’s sort of like planning a trip across the country without a map or a compass. In life, just as in driving, direction is the key for getting from point A to point B.

So how is it possible for anyone to adhere to these healthy promises heading into 2011?

1. Keep it simple
2. Have a plan
3. Make attainable goals

According to a recent article on the, the simplicity or complexity of a resolution can largely factor into an individual’s chances of sticking with that goal. For those who vow to lose weight, setting unrealistic weight or exercise goals can be largely counterproductive. The term “keeping it simple,” as used the daily comet article, means living in the moment, living in the day and taking it slowly into the new year. When you place extreme pressure on  yourself, you need to make sure that you are not delaying your own progress by implementing overzealous plans. To get across a large river you can’t simply jump, you must hop from stone to stone. The same can be said for making it to the end of your goal.

While “keeping it simple,” you still need to have an overall game plan. If your resolution is to quit smoking, for example, try breaking this down into more attainable smaller goals. “Only smoke one cigarette today,” “One every two days,” “One a week,” and so on… When you not only live in the moment but also giving yourself a more realistic opportunity for change, your chance for success increases greatly.

No matter your sentiments regarding Vanilla Sky, starring Tom Cruise and Penélope Cruz, perhaps this movie may have said it best – “Every passing moment is a chance to turn it all around.” It’s rare that a bit of Hollywood script stays with me long after the final credits have rolled, but this is one phrase I remember when I am holding myself to goals and face a slip up here and there. Maybe it can have the same effect for you.

Stay strong, allow yourself to stumble at times and come up with a low pressure plan and perhaps 2011 will be the year that you can check off all your resolutions!

What are your plans for success in 2011? Did you keep your resolutions for 2010?