Five tricks to guarantee you keep your resolutions


lots of New Year's Resolutions on yellow pieces of paper

Three days in and the New Year's resolutions are already under pressure. Our commitment not to buy lunch at work is unlikely to survive much beyond the realisation that we'll have to get out of bed ten minutes earlier. Our drive to avoid going for a drink on Friday after work dies quietly in the face of persuasive colleagues.

But there are five tricks which will ensure you never fail to keep a resolution again.

1. Start with what you actually want to achieve

Most resolutions are a means to an end. Your drive to make packed lunches is based on the need to spend less, and the aim to avoid going for a drink on Friday after work is based on the need to save more money. So don't worry about the ends, and concentrate on the means.

2. Set a realistic goal

Let's assume your desire to avoid Friday night drinks was a desire to save £20 a week. Start with that as your goal. Don't build it up to something unattainable in order to challenge yourself, if you find saving £20 a week too easy, then you can revisit it in June.

3. Do it the easy way

Before you start something that's going to be a desperate challenge, think about how you can achieve the same goals without any pain - or at least with less pain. So, for example, you could check out whether you could save any money on your gas, electricity or broadband instead. This may mean moving to direct debit, changing supplier, moving to dual fuel, or simply ringing your broadband supplier and seeing if they will offer you a better deal. You could save £200 or more, which will save you doing anything more painful for a few weeks.

4. Devise a strategy

For the hard things, try to work out how you can make things easier. So, for example, if you're giving up expensive coffees at work, make sure you take a container of nice coffee into work with you. If you can't be bothered with making a packed lunch, think about ensuring there are always leftovers from the night before that you can pop in a tub. If these things are a real struggle, then tell yourself you'll just do them for a week, and if it's too hard you can save the cash another way next week. That way you won't let yourself fail.

5. Get back on the horse

The problem we all have is that if we have a hiccup we give up entirely. The only answer is to get back on the horse. If you end up going for drinks on Friday when you promised yourself you wouldn't, then just consider how you can spend less at the weekend. Swap a day at the shops for a long walk, a run, or a film trilogy on the sofa. There's always another way to achieve the same thing if you're flexible enough.

And the great news is that this doesn't just guarantee you'll keep your financial resolutions, it works for diets, fitness, and life changes too. But what do you think? Will you keep your resolutions? Will these five tricks keep you on track? Or have you already broken them?