The key to success for your New Year’s resolutions

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Every January, many of us observe a long-standing tradition: making a list of our New Year’s resolutions. We try to put our best foot forward, rev up our confidence, and make promises to ourselves we intend (or say we intend) to follow over the next 12 months. It’s a fun tradition. Except for one thing—those resolutions are often really hard to stick with for the whole year (or even a few weeks in some cases).

Statistics show that only 8% of people who make resolutions actually follow through on them. Some would-be resolvers have even been known, in the aftermath of failure, to deny the resolutions existed in the first place. “Resolutions? What resolutions? You’ve got no proof!”

Well now there’s a way to keep yourself—or a friend—honest: Avvo has created a New Year’s Resolution Contract form for 2017.

A physical document keeps you on track

The contract enables you to easily detail your commitments and put your resolutions in writing. No matter what your resolutions entail, the format can accommodate whatever specifics you need to include for success.

Are you going on a diet? You can say “I’ll lose x number of pounds by y date,” or you can specifically address your triple-decker bacon cheeseburger habit, and resolve to juice 3 times a week with kale, beets, and ginger root.

Having trouble getting to bed at a reasonable hour? You can contractually resolve to be under the covers by a certain time, or go deeper and make your resolution about not drinking or eating food after 8 o’clock, no TV past 10, and lights off by 11. Spending too much time online? Put yourself on a digital diet, with specifics about how often you browse the web, and when.

Get yourself some backup

Just having your resolutions right there in black and white can be a big help in staying on track, but the contract makes it harder to wiggle out of your agreements in other ways as well.

You can designate someone else as your official witness, a person who can not only attest to the existence of the contract and your resolution commitments, but can also be on the hook as a helper. Maybe they’ll go the gym with you, or join you for that vegan dinner you agreed to eat three times a week.

And if peer pressure doesn’t do the trick, you can include some form of consequences for not living up to your commitments. Make it something simple, or get creatively ironic, like you’ll agree to pay your co-worker’s monthly cable bill every time you opt for binge watching over weight lifting. Or you’ll volunteer to clean your roommate’s bedroom if she catches you not putting away your dishes, or leaving clothes strewn all over the living room. It’s up to you.

So make 2017 the year you join that select group of successful resolvers, and overcome whatever challenges have stood in your way. Drop those 15 pounds you gained after graduating from college, or quit smoking, or take that trip to Mexico (or if you’re feeling ambitious, all three at once!). A contract with yourself will keep you honest and help you achieve your goals—and might be a lot of fun besides.

Access our step-by-step form editor on the New Year’s Resolution Contract page, then download and share with friends!