It's easy to make New Year's resolutions, but can you keep them?
Absolutely, if you're smart with your planning and can handle setbacks.
The first rule of thumb?
Be specific. Don't just say, I want to lose weight or handle money better, for example.
"Those are too general," clinical psychologist Mark Crawford says. "I think you have to be specific. ‘I want to lose ten pounds, I want to save $2,000 this year.' So the more specific, the more likely you will meet that goal."
Be realistic about what you can accomplish. It's very hard for people to lose 100 pounds in a year. Set out to do what is attainable.
Devise a plan. If you want to slim down and get fit, you might set a goal of working out three days a week and decreasing portion sizes.
"Things aren't going to change because you want them to," Crawford says. "They're going to change because you're going to change behaviors."
Set short term goals. A year is too long, Crawford says.
"Set a goal for a week, for two weeks at most. Then see how you're doing."
And the best glue to help resolutions stick?
"You have to expect a setback and get right back on track," Crawford says. "The goal is progress toward your goal, not perfection."
And try to make just one or two resolutions a year. More than that may be a recipe for failure.