SGPsychStud: Your New Year's Resolution - How bad do you want it?

Setting a New Year's resolution is a common task that some of you will do at the very start of a new year.  I did not plan to write this post until a few days ago, hence it is (slightly over) a week away from the start of 2014.  I have seen quite a few articles in the last week on setting a New Year's resolution, and how to keep to it.  It seemed like despite making a resolution every year, a lot of us are unable to keep to it.  So it looks like making a New Year resolution is the easy part, and keeping it or finishing it is the difficult one.  So how bad do you want to complete your New Year's resolution?

A very common and well-recommended strategy is the SMART(ER) criteria:
(We will explain it with an example resolution: "I want to do well in school")
  • S - Specific;  Make sure it is specific and clear
    • What do you mean by "doing well"?  Any specific subjects?"
  • M - Measurable;  Write your resolution in a measurable method
    • What is the minimum result/grade for "doing well in school"?  Set a result/grade.  
  • A - Attainable;  Make sure your goal / resolution is achievable, yet challenging at the same time
    • If it is not attainable, there is a high chance that you will not complete it, i.e. achieving the next grade higher.
    • If it is not challenging enough, there is a high chance you will get bored, i.e. two grades higher may not be so achievable, hence you might actually give up along the way.
  • R - Relevant;  Make sure your resolution is personal and the things you are doing are relevant to achieving your goal and resolution
    • Who or what are you studying for?  If your reasons or motivations are intrinsic, they may be very good and valid reasons to work hard for them.
    • Are you doing the right things to achieve your goal? (i.e. reducing your television or computer time on doing school work)
  • T - Time-bound;  Give yourself a time frame to finish the resolution or goal
    • This creates a sense of urgency to do it.  Without this sense of urgency, these resolution or goal might actually just be the same ones next year.
  • E - Evaluate;  Must sure you evaluate your steps and the things that you are doing, to guide you progressively to achieve your resolution or goal
    • Without evaluation or assessment, you will not know if you are actually doing the right things or moving forward towards completing the resolution.
  • R - Review;  Have a overall review towards the end of your time frame on whether you change your goal or steps on doing it
    • If things are working and you are moving progressively, you may want to revise your resolution or goal to make it more challenging.
    • If things are not working, you may want to look at the SMART criteria again to revise your goal again.
However, even if you have a SMART resolution or goal, there may still be the chance of not being able to complete it.  In my opinion, this might be due to the amount of Motivation and Commitment that you have towards doing it. Here are some tips for improving your motivation and commitment for completing your New Year's resolution:
  • First and foremost, give yourself a damn good reason on why you are doing it.  With a reason, there is a purpose.  With a purpose, there is an aim, and hence you will be motivated and committed to doing what you need to do to achieve your resolution.
  • Motivation - this will help you stick to your resolution, especially in times of need and laziness to not stick or do the resolution.
    • Firstly, as mentioned, you need the reason.
    • Write it down - this is highly recommended, as by writing it down, you are making a commitment, not just to yourself but in writing too.  This usually help kick things off.
    • Put your notes of resolution in at least three places in the house, i.e. beside the bed, living/study area, bathroom/toilet, or dining area.  This will help remind you of your resolution to keep doing it.  It is recommended to have them there for at least 21 days or up to whenever you are reminded of your resolution all the time.
    • Tell someone close of your resolution, and get the person to remind you all the time. However it have been mentioned that this is not a good strategy. See here and here.
    • Keep reminding yourself about your resolution or keep doing things (that helps!) related to your resolution.  But this really also depends on your commitment to it. 
  • Commitment - it is advised that you stay committed to your resolution or goal, otherwise, there is no way that it will be completed.
    • The reason that you have gave earlier will give you the meaning and purpose to achieve your resolution, hence it is important to have a reason.
    • Don't complain and give reasons for not doing the tasks, e.g. "I have no time to study".  Cutting the slack on yourself once or twice will only build the habit for future occurrences of you not doing them again, hence always be strict and stick to the plan.
    • Reward yourself along the way for completing the tasks, e.g. "Computer time for half an hour each day for three hours of study and work".  All pain and no gain makes a journey very tough, hence rewards work  well along the way; just do not overdo it or go overboard with the rewards.
I hope you achieve your New Year's resolution this year through using the SMART method, and make sure to be motivated and committed to achieve it!!!

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