Every year, many of us make the same New Year's resolutions as last year.

Most of them are not particularly original. The most common ones are: loose weight, exercise regularly, eat healthy, drink less alcohol, smoke less, watch less TV, take more time for the family, for reading, for self improvement, reduce debt and save money, think positively, improve your career or your education.

Some bid it farewell just after the clock strikes twelve, some realise a few weeks later or even only to the end of the year: Wow, the year has gone, and again: I missed the chance.

According to a recent English study, only 12% succeed in realising their good intentions proclaimed at New Years day.

What is the difference between these 12% and the 88% failing?

There are two good reasons: writing down the good intentions as clearly stated goals and a concrete plan how to realise them.

Various studies of university graduates show that over 90% of those who had stated their objectives at the end of their studies had reached them after twenty years. However in the group who did not write down their expectations, only a few reached their goals.

This also applies to New Year’s resolutions.

Why is that so?

Writing down your objective is like a commitment to yourself to reach your goals. In order to state your goals, you need to be clear, precise and aware. A goal focuses your energy and directs it. A goal allows you to overcome difficult situations.

Here are some suggestions how to succeed next year:

Loose weight, exercise regularly, and eat healthy
To succeed you may have to change your lifestyle. Loosing weight is a simple equation: Eat healthy and exercise regularly.

If you are a coach potato, it may need a carefully designed plan how to build up healthy eating habits and establish an exercise routine. The more precisely you write down a weekly plan that you can measure and track (preferably with a weekly chart), the greater are your chances to succeed. However - make sure the steps that you choose are realistic.

How to discover what is ‘realistic’ for you need to be based on your previous experiences. It is better to work towards losing 1 kg in two weeks and achieve that by establishing a healthy daily routine than by following a radical diet plan of 2 kg / week. Those diet plans usually end up with an additional increase of 2kg to make up for the hunger that you suffered during the diet.

I personally prefer the 5:2 diet. I eat normal food for 5 days/week and reduce the food intake to 500 cal (men 600 cal) twice a week. This plan follows a biological response that has been established in our human bodies for millennia. At some times in our far past, we had plenty to eat and at other times there was little.

With an exercise routine, follow the same guidelines. Select movements or a program that you enjoy and slowly and systematically build an exercise program that fits your needs.

I personally enjoy wearing a fitness watch, which measures the heart rate and a few other values, and creates a weekly program out of those measurements to fit my needs. This weekly adjusted program help me to keep track of my progress and to motivate myself anew every week.

Reduce debt and save money
If you want to reduce debt and save money you need a detailed overview of your expenses and your income. It may be necessary for a few months to first keep a record of your spending in order to understand how you distribute your expenses. Only then can you correct this distribution, so that you have extra money to reduce debts or save money.

If you want to save money, plan with your future in mind. But don’t get too tight on it. Relax the grip once in a while for a blissful indulgence. Perhaps keeping it to one or two annual affairs. 

More time for your family, for your own well being and what really matters to you
Time is a matter of your priorities. Ask yourself the following question: if this would be the last 5 minutes of my life, would I do what I am doing just now?

Many years ago, this little exercise had an amazing effect on me. Some bad habits disappeared; I changed my job and turned to those activities that felt really important in my life at that time.

Many of us waste time with trivial talks and activities because we tend to exclude the fact that life is limited. We believe that we have an infinite amount of time for everything.

We often only realize what really matters to us when we have lost it.

Take advantage of the dark winter hours now to turn inside and to clarify your values and priorities. From there, write down a step-by-step program to realise those goals.

Keep it simple. Keep it to only a few objectives. This increases your chances to succeed with what really matter to you.

In order to succeed you may have to de-clutter your accumulated junk. Let go of what no longer serves you. Charities will appreciate your donation, or if it’s more to your preference organize a garage sale to enjoy the extra income.

While you turn inwards check your mental attitude. Do you see your glass being half empty or half full? It’s only a little switch in your mind with a big resulting change in your capacity to solve any obstacle on your way which will considerably improve you well being.

If you want a step-by-step guidance how to create a fulfilled life, have a look at my e-book: Beyond Suffering. Joy is a Choice and my self-improvement - package: Living the Life You Choose. You will receive both offers at a discount valid up to New Years day

With best wishes for 2015
Ulla Sebastian

Author's Bio: 

Dr. Ulla Sebastian is an internationally well-known author, trainer and psychotherapist. Her work spans a wide range of themes for professional and personal growth. Using forty years of research, work with thousands of people from all over the world and a lifelong experience of self growth and transformation, she supports people in their personal and spiritual growth to find joy, self confidence and fulfilment. Visit her website: http://www.visioform.com/eng/