Which Wins Wednesday: One Big Resolution or Short-Term Goals

Have you ever given up on a New Year’s resolution? Don’t worry, you’re not alone. Only 8 percent of people actually achieve the goals they set on January 1. Reaching a resolution, whether it’s getting fit, eating healthier or just waking up to your first alarm everyday (bye, snooze button!), will give you the greatest feeling of achievement, but how do you even begin?

Some experts argue that setting smaller goals for yourself throughout the year is often more effective and maintainable. But if you’ve always set a milestone for yourself to meet, it might be difficult to think a few days ahead instead of a few months. If you want to be your happiest self, is it better to set one big resolution to work on throughout the year or set several small resolutions throughout each month?

Setting one big resolution
Saying you want to work out more or eat healthier is a great lifestyle change, but it isn’t specific. To help ensure your resolution sticks, make a plan. Commit to attending an exercise class three times a week or bringing your lunch to work everyday. This gives you a clear guide to follow to accomplish what you set out to do. If your past New Year’s resolutions failed because you set out to complete them on your own, try involving your friends or family this time around. Talk with them about what you want the end results to look like, have them check in each week to see if you attended those work out classes, and even ask them to join you. Chances are, they want the extra push to live a healthier lifestyle in the new year, too!

Setting several small resolutions
Research shows making a drastic lifestyle change without any transition can lead to giving up faster. Stick to your resolution by making small changes throughout the year. Challenge yourself to have a new resolution each month, like giving up sweets, trying a new workout technique or increasing the amount of time you run each day by one minute. The small, constant changes will keep you motivated throughout the four weeks, and because it’s a short time period rather than an entire year, you’ll look forward to the next month’s mini resolution. You may even find yourself liking the goal enough to carry it through to the following weeks

The winner
When it comes to choosing your New Year’s resolution, stick to small (but mighty!) changes. You’ll feel more motivated to complete your goal when they’re only set in month-long increments. Year-long goals might look good on paper, but without a step-by-step plan, it’s unlikely you’ll end up with those 8 percent of people who actually reach their resolutions.

Emily is a recent graduate and proud Midwesterner who just moved to the big city to start her career in magazine journalism. When she isn't commuting between Brooklyn and Manhattan, she enjoys browsing bookstores for her next read, sipping chai tea lattes at local coffee shops, and playing tourist in the city she always dreamed of living in.