Not everyone sets a New Year’s resolution, but many consider the beginning of the year to be a fresh start. If you do tend to set goals each year, it’s common to get offtrack. In fact, research by Scranton University suggest that only 8 percent of people achieve their New Year resolutions!


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So how do we make sure we dedicate 2014 to reaching our targets when we feel so drained? There are a few ways to keep our determination going strong that can also highlight the impact of committing to our goals.

1. Set a manageable goal

So often we set goals for ourselves that are too broad — vowing to lose weight or save more for instance. In reality, those goals tend not to be fulfilled. Why? They’re too vague. The key to goal-making is to choose narrow goals that can be tracked in measurable results.

2. Make yourself dependent on completing your daily action

Consider if your boss gave you an ultimatum — either you finish all your assignments on time or you’re fired. You would listen, wouldn’t you? That’s because the heat has been cranked up, and there is now an urgency to push yourself to do what you have to do.

You can accomplish the same by imposing your own rules on your lifestyle. For instance, you could vow “I won’t go to bed tonight until I have at least two pages of that project done.” Of course you know yourself best, so as stated in number one above, be realistic.

3. Make a list on why you want to accomplish your goal

Goals are formed out of a wish, either to break bad habits or develop good ones. So why do you want to accomplish your goal? By making a list of all your reasons, you can see on paper just how important your target really is to you, and how many different ways your life would change and improve if you did what you set out to do.

4. Be ridiculously detail-oriented

After picking your narrow focus, it’s time to flesh out all the details. For instance, if your goal is to sock away more money into your retirement fund this year, setting up an automatic transfer in your checking account may be a great place to start. Of course, first figure out how much you can put away, beforehand, and consider increasing that amount from the year before.

Or, if your goal is to get a job, you may want to:

  • Figure out what you want to do.
  • Compile a list of potential employer companies that interest you.
  • Create a master list of helpful job sites and resources.

Those are just the beginning steps. To get even more complex, you may want to set targets with deadlines, such as getting those three activities done in just a couple of days, and then scheduling a different focus for each week such as networking, developing a mentor-relationship with an experienced professional, meeting with a career coach or going to job fairs.

5. Use mental tricks

Mental tricks are crucial to staying motivated throughout the year. While self-imposing “threats” (such as no sleep without having accomplished measurable achievements), are tactics that don’t really sustain long-term progress. A different way of keeping ourselves accountable might be to have a responsible friend keep tabs on our efforts.

Another useful mental technique may be to visualize the adversity and pain others have endured to reach their goals (think: Nelson Mandela) in order to give you perspective about your own quest. Invoking heart-wrenching models of struggle and triumph can solidify your determination.

6. Set targets and rewards

While it is possible to use self-discipline and restraint for an entire year without any positive reinforcement, it’s not very common or realistic. Break down your goals and circle the milestone moments. When you reach those triumphant moments, reward yourself in ways that won’t conflict with your goal.

Take it upon yourself to make 2014 a productive year — with these motivation tactics, you can be on your way to achieving what you’ve always wanted, and be closer to realizing your big-picture, long-term goal.


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5 Smart Financial Resolutions to Make in 2014

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