Every January 1, likely, you make a resolution. By February 1, you may already have blown it. Let this be the year your resolution sticks. Here’s how.
You’ve made a New Year’s resolution? Congratulations: Research says you’re 10 times more likely to successfully alter a behavior than you would if you didn’t make a start-of-the-year vow. And maybe that’s why some 45 percent of American adults ring in the New Year with a resolution.
But will they keep it? According to statistics, almost half will give up on their goals within six months. Avoid being one of them. No matter what you’ve vowed—to lose weight? get fit? save money?—these tips will help you achieve your goal.
Set realistic goals and write them down
Understanding what you want to achieve in the new year is the first step. It can be as simple as eating more fruits and vegetables or as specific as fitting into “those” favorite jeans again. Get as specific as you can, and get your goal down in writing – but be realistic. Setting goals that are unrealistic means you are likely to become discouraged if you don’t meet your expectations. It’s better to achieve success with several small steps over time than give up when large changes don’t happen quickly.
Plan it out!
One in three people abandons their efforts by the end of January, with most citing the lack of time as the main reason. So before you mentally commit to your goal, do consider the time and effort needed and make a plan first. If reaching your goal requires a visit to the gym every day, while you haven’t been able to squeeze a workout in your busy life more than once a week in the past year, chances are such a goal is way too ambitious.
Aim for an achievable target and put it in your calendar. Blocking two mornings or evenings a week consistently for a regular workout will not only make it easier to plan your other activities around but also creates a predictable routine to stick to. Good planning removes the excuse of being “too busy” and increases the odds of reaching your New Year goal.
Having made a note of your time-frame, you will have a physical reminder of what you’re aiming for. Now go further and write down the details of your resolutions in a notebook, remembering to add your motivations. You could keep a scrapbook for this purpose, and fill it with photos of your slimmer self, pictures of sporting or hobby equipment you are saving for, or even a shocking credit card statement to spur you into action! If your resolution will directly benefit your partner, children, colleagues or friends then add their photos too – anything to remind you of your initial motivation.
Do bear in mind that a slip-up is almost inevitable at some point, and you must not let this become an excuse to give up. When it happens, you will need to draw on your reserves of self-belief and strength, so build these qualities as often as you can. Really feel proud of your past achievements and don’t become critical of yourself. People with higher self-esteem and confidence are in a much better position to succeed, so immediately forgive yourself and say “I’m starting again now!”
A “strong resolution with a solid chance for success bridges that gap between values and action,” according to Duffy. So first identify your core values, he said. (If you need help, you can find tools online.) Take your top five and use them to create a personal mission statement. Then set your New Year’s goals based on that statement.
An example: “To participate in enjoyable physical activities three times weekly in order to feel strong, boost my mood and improve my overall sense of health and wellbeing.”
One reason you fall off diets and exercise programs is that you need a quick fix every time you deal with negative people or no-win situations. These can be so exhausting that you say “the heck with” your diet or exercise and grab a candy bar or bail on exercising. Find a way to reduce contact with these people and situations and you’ll dramatically increase your energy and be able to stay on track.
A common hurdle in accomplishing our goals is creating the settings and circumstances that cultivate them, “a resolution that results in real change requires a shift in priorities.” In other words, if you want to write the great American novel, make time in your day to write. Buy the supplies you need. Seek a quiet spot in your house. Get a babysitter for the allotted time so you’re better able to concentrate on creating.