New year resolutions are a great opportunity for self-improvement, but they can be harder to keep than you imagined.

Here are some new year tips for setting realistic and achievable goals.

A Psychologist’s perspective

Around 50% of Australians make new year resolutions, but only 12% actually follow through on them, with a whopping 33% giving up by the end of January. There are a few explanations for this low success rate. The resolution might have been too ambitious, you might feel like you’re not making enough progress, or you may give up after the first setback.

Brisbane Counselling Centre’s top goal setting tips:

1.     Start small

Setting achievable goals means starting small. Pick a target just beyond what you’ve achieved before, even if it’s not your ideal destination. Succeeding will give you a good feeling that motivates you to make another goal.

Combining your resolution with an activity you enjoy is an easy way to build positive associations. For example, try exercising while watching your favourite shows.

2.     Set measurable goals and milestones

People often lose motivation when they feel they’re not getting anything for their efforts. By setting measurable goals, you’ll not only have proof of your success, you’ll also be setting personal records to beat.

Setting milestones can help you hold on when you’re ready to give up. Make these close together at first, and then spread them out further as you gain confidence.

3.     Reward Yourself

Remember that your resolution isn’t a punishment for not being perfect. Celebrate when you do well, as this creates positive feedback to motivate continued success.

When choosing a reward, go for one that isn’t going to be counterproductive to your goal. If you’re trying to lose weight, a chocolate reward will just make more work for yourself.

4.     Seek support

Everyone has goals they struggle to achieve, and sharing your own difficulties can help someone else open up about theirs. When we share our experiences with others, we feel both less pressured and more motivated to succeed.

What should you do if you are struggling to set realistic goals?

Sometimes we can be too close to the problem to tell if we’re setting realistic goals. For best results, consult your psychologist for an objective, judgement-free assessment.