Every January 1, everyone wakes up with the best intentions of improving themselves and living a better life. By March 12, all those ideals are out the window. Not this year! Here's how to make your resolution last all year.
Failing to fulfill your New Year's resolution can be soul crushing, because you think it's due to some sort of internal weakness and that you'll be stuck living the same old dreary life that you've been slogging through forever. Don't worry, the problem isn't you. Well, it's you a little bit you, but I'm going to stop judging so much (that's my resolution). The problem isn't even your specific resolution, but probably just a failure of planning and goal setting. This year, we have your back. Just follow these easy steps and you'll be living your best life (just like Oprah!) in no time.
Be Realistic: Let's face it, you are not going to stop watching porn. You are a disgusting perv who loves porn and saying you're going to stop forever is setting yourself up for failure. You are also not going to lose 50 lbs. At least not unless you get yourself cast on The Biggest Loser or amputate a limb. You are also not going to go to the gym everyday. You might go to the gym—as in attend the gym one time on January 2—but you will not go to the gym every single day for 365 days. You need to pick something that you will actually be able to accomplish. Set your sights lower rather than higher. Say that you're going to lose 5 lbs. You can do that by switching from soda to water and peeing a lot. With all the good mojo you've ginned up losing those 5 pounds, you might motivate yourself to lose another 5. Keep it real and you won't be disappointed.
Think Incrementally: Since we're being realistic, you are not going to just up and quit anything—smoking, drinking, biting your nails, nagging your spouse, chewing betel nut—overnight. It takes a long time to break a habit. Instead of setting one unreachable goal, try to break it up into a few easy steps. Say, "I'll get down to one pack a day by February 1," "For two weeks I'm only going to bite the nails on my left hand," or "By March, I'll only chew betel nut on weekends." Once you've achieved that goal, go on to the next one and work your way down until you've quit altogether. It might take a bit longer, but you have a better chance to succeed. Now go get some Crest White Strips, cause your betel nut mouth is nasty.
Incentivize: Most people fail at their resolutions and punish themselves. Skipping out on a vacation because you didn't lose your 50 pounds is stupid and only going to make you more depressed, which will make you eat more and lead you in the totally wrong direction. Instead, set yourself up to receive a reward for good behavior. "If I only masturbate at work once this week, then I can buy those new shirt I have my eye on," or something like that. "If I'm not mean to one child on the subway this week, I can buy a new pair of shoes!" Just don't make your reward something contrary to your goal. "If I lose 5 lbs., I can pig out on Friendly's Sundaes," is not only a very bad idea. And if you're that stupid then you deserve to fail.
Misery Loves Company: If you're going to have to suffer, get a friend or loved one to suffer with you. If you're trying to go work out more, get a gym buddy. If you're trying to stop using the word "fail" as a noun, force your coworker to do the same. That way you'll have someone to call you out if you backslide, encourage you to move forward, and motivate you when you want to call your new boss' hair a "combover fail." Also, you can bitch about how much life sucks to each other. That's not productive, but it sure feels good. If you can't get someone involved in your plan, at least talk to your friends and family about your resolution. You're probably used to disappointing yourself, but the thought of upsetting your mother if you don't finally get your GED is enough to keep you hitting the books.
Pick Something Within Your Control: You can only control your behavior, so don't try to choose a resolution that involves the decisions of others. Therefore, "I'm going to find a new job this year," or "I'm going to get married by 2012," or "I'm going to get cast on The Biggest Loser," are all really bad ideas. You don't make the hiring decisions, you can't force someone to propose to you (unless you can manage to get pregnant), and your personality isn't sunny enough for TV, so you're setting yourself up for failure. However, you can still work towards these in other ways. Why not plan to apply for one job a day (or one job a week). You may not get one, but at least you did the work to try to get there. If you want to meet a partner, resolve to join an internet dating site, try to go out more, or stop asking prospective beaus for drug tests before you go out with them. Sure, you may end up with a junkie, but at least you won't be alone!
Be Resilient: If your resolution is to go to the gym every Tuesday and Thursday and you skip a Thursday, don't fall into a shame spiral and sit on the couch with a pint of Cherry Garcia and a Real Housewives of Beverly Hills marathon and give up your resolution altogether. Allow yourself a few missteps. No one is perfect—well except Oprah, and you can't be her. If you fall off the wagon, don't wallow in the dirt. Just get back up and keep on going. One mistake isn't worth ditching the whole endeavor. Unless the mistake leads to your imprisonment. Then you're screwed.