This article was originally published on in Motherhood Matters.

how to set a new years resolution


As my husband drove us to our New Year’s Eve party I couldn’t help but stare out the passenger window into the dark night. I was deep in thought about what I should choose for my New Year’s resolution.

Should I even set one? Forty-five percent of Americans usually do, according to Statistics Brain.

I believe in resolutions and have actually been living by six Mom Resolutions all year. But I find myself still feeling the need to set a New Year’s resolution with the rest of Americans.

In years past, I’ve typically had a laundry list of resolutions for the new year. Many of the moms I have talked to this week have made long lists of resolutions for themselves as well.

But Dr. John Norcross, clinical psychologist and professor of psychology at the University of Scranton, actually recommends just choosing one resolution at a time. Unless your resolutions are related to each other — like exercise and eating healthy — you will be most successful with just one resolution at a time.

In an interview Norcorss did with NPR’s “Talk of the Nation,” he offered some tips to make sure we are among the 8 percent of people who actually make their resolutions reality.

1. Keep your resolution realistic. It sounds simple enough, but setting a goal to lose 50 pounds may not be as realistic as losing 15 pounds. You can always set another goal when you accomplish the first one you set.

2. Make sure your resolution is measurable. You must be able to put a number or time limit on your goal. “Be in bed by 11 p.m. every night” is a much stronger resolution than “go to bed earlier.”

3. Have confidence you can accomplish your goal. You must believe in yourself! If you don’t think you can do it, why are you setting the goal in the first place? If necessary, scale the goal down until you do believe you can make it happen.

4. Use the buddy system. Find a family member or friend who will help keep you accountable or even work with you on the resolution. Some people even choose to make their goal super public by posting it on a blog or social media site.

Knowing you have to report back to someone — or a group of people — may be the factor that gets you off the couch and to the gym.

5. Track your progress. Find a way to keep track of what you have accomplished toward your goal each day or each week. There are great apps that track calories or weight loss. You could use a calendar to mark off each day you worked on your goal or a journal to chart your progress.

6. Reward yourself. Choose a reward or prize you get each time you work on your goal or have a successful day toward your resolution. Only you can pick a motivating reward for yourself. Maybe a piece of chocolate, hot bath or protein shake would do the trick.

As the ball dropped, and we counted down to 2013, I still had not chosen a new resolution. I finally did decide on one, but just one this year.