There’s something about the start of the new year that inspires us to try and improve or reinvent ourselves. Setting New Year’s resolutions, or personal goals that you want to accomplish by the end of the year, is a great way to channel that motivation. Unfortunately, changing anything about ourselves takes a lot of energy, hard work and time, not to mention the level of drive and motivation people experience when making their New Year’s resolutions often fades after a few weeks or months. Even so, it’s very possible to achieve and keep your New Year’s Resolutions. Keep these things in mind to help you succeed at your resolutions in 2012.

Be realistic – When you are in that New Year “go big!” mindset, it can be tempting to aim as high as possible when setting your resolutions. It’s good to challenge yourself, but you also want to be sure that your goals will still look achievable six months down the road. Going for a 20 minute jog three times a week consistently throughout the whole year is better than deciding to hit the gym for an hour six days a week, only to give up altogether after the first month. Recognize that even small changes can make a huge difference.

Choose goals with a destination – Try to make your New Year’s resolutions have a tangible, clear objective. Don’t just say, “I will save more money.” Be specific: “I will save $1200 this year. I will break that up into a “mini-goal” of saving an extra $100 a month by working on Saturdays and not eating out more than once a week.” It’s important to have an actionable plan for reaching your goals. Also, try to break up your resolutions into several “mini-goals,” things that you can finish in a shorter span of time. This will give you a way to reassess your progress throughout the year, plus thinking in the short term can help make your goals seem more manageable.

Prepare affirmations and use them. – There will be times when you don’t feel like trying, or when you’re not sure if it’s worth it to keep going. Self-affirmations can give you a positive boost when your motivation is down. An affirmation is a statement that you repeat to yourself to convince yourself that something is true. To get started, I suggest using a variation on psychologist Émile Coué’s autosuggestion: “Every day, in every way, I’m getting better and better.” Modify this for your own situation — “Every day, in every way, I’m getting healthier and healthier.” Or “Every day, in every way, my grades are getting better and better.” Now say it until you believe it!

What are your New Year’s resolutions? How are you planning to stick to them? Let us know in the comments!

[Image courtesy of Flickr user nicolas.boullosa. Licensed under CC BY 2.0]