|Making A New Year Resolution That Sticks
According to Business Insider (2017), 80% of people drop theirs by the second week of February every year. By January 20th most are already losing momentum.
Prepare to succeed this time…
The majority of us don’t make New Year’s resolutions for many reasons—in fact, it is determined that only 8% of the people who do make resolutions actually fully achieve them. If you’re part of that group, congratulations! If you’re not, there might be a way for you to see the dreaded New Year’s resolution, or at least the underlying healthy habit—in a new light.
The key to making a healthy change is to set yourself up for success. Whether you’re looking to lose weight, gain muscle, sleep more, disconnect from your devices, live a happier life, or develop a spiritual discipline, there are strategies you can use to set a New Year’s resolution that is actually achievable.
Here are five tips for accomplishing healthy goals when New Year’s resolutions seem too intimidating.
1. Mix it up day by day, month by month, quarter by quarter.
If your goal is to be healthier and live a better, more fulfilling life, consider making a list of beneficial changes and then focus on one each month. Having a set time to really focus on one positive change at a time can make resolutions feel less daunting and more achievable.
There’s no reason your short-term resolutions can’t carry over and turn into year-long habits. That would be the ultimate achievement.
Resolution Tip: One resolution you might want to consider is getting adequate sleep, which might just be the most important and most underrated goal. Succeeding at any new healthy change will require self-discipline, focus and energy all of which are hard to come by if you’re short on sleep. According to researchers, a well-rested person will have a much easier time resisting that piece of cake than a tired one. So if you find yourself struggling with willpower or stamina, you may just need to sleep on it.
If you’re trying to accomplish a monumental achievement like quitting smoking or losing weight, you’ll have a better chance of sticking to it if you talk about it. Feeling accountable to others and getting the support of friends and family greatly increases your chance of success.
Tell your family, friends and coworkers. Find a loyal friend, an encouraging healthy eating partner, or someone who will subtly and kindly swat that cigarette right out of your hand. Your own personal team of supporters will come in handy when you find yourself struggling or experiencing a moment of weakness.
If you’re more of a private person, there are still ways to get support from others without asking your desk partner to snack on carrots with you. There are countless online support groups, programs and even apps for your phone that can help you stay on track, whether your goal is to lose weight, get in shape, or quit smoking.
Resolution Tip: Don’t be afraid to be selective when it comes to forming your support group. Surround yourself with people who share the same healthy visions you do. Try to limit your interaction with negative people or influences, and know that it’s perfectly okay to make yourself and your personal goals a priority.
3. Set up “check points” to measure milestones.
If you want to choose one goal and stick to it for the full twelve months, consider breaking the year down into small timeframes. Many people miss out on making positive changes because they immediately think, “I can’t hit the gym five days a week for an entire year! What about holidays? What about summer? What about [insert excuse here].” Instead of choosing a resolution that sabotages itself before it even starts, write out a list of attainable achievement points. Exercise three to five days a week for one month. Then do two more months. If you know you’re coming upon a busy month, reduce your workout schedule to three days a week, or an amount you know you can manage. You can always increase your plan for the next milestone. This way, you won’t feel crushed and tempted to just forget the whole thing.
This same strategy can work for losing weight, eating healthier and getting more sleep. Using milestones can help you manage your expectations and hit your goals without feeling frustrated and defeated when life throws you a curveball, or your schedule changes.
Resolution Tip: Planning ahead and rewarding yourself go hand in hand when it comes to successful resolutions. If your goal is to lose 20 pounds, break it into five pound milestones, and reward yourself with each success. Just make sure you choose a healthy reward like new workout gear, fresh flowers or a day trip somewhere fun, not a hot fudge sundae.
4. Prepare for the resistance and sabotage.
New Year’s resolutions don’t always have to be about cutting out unhealthy behaviors. Try adding something to your life rather than taking something away. Instead of vowing to never eat chocolate again, plan to be realistic and yet determined to “do it differently.”
If you do decide to completely give up one of your vices like cookies, caffeine or alcohol, be sure you have a game plan in place that will help you stick to your goal when temptation comes knocking, or when your body starts to fight back.
Be patient and have a little grace. It’s completely possible to combat bad habits and create new ones if we are both realistic and intentional. We cannot “wing it.’ We must be both strategic as well as tactically on purpose. In the morning and throughout the day do simple things like staying realistic and reasonable with your goals hourly, daily and weekly.
Practice these small changes allowing yourself to experience the success of even the smallest victory. If it boundaries in what you think, eat, or even hours at work and home. Take a few moments to celebrate the intentional effort.
5. Think outside yourself. [Do for others who cannot do for themselves.]
Most people see making a resolution as a chance to better themselves. To look better, feel better, save more, earn more, develop a closer walk with God, and develop a spiritual depth and the list goes on. That’s great, but you could also consider a resolution that focuses on others instead of yourself. Some people find that it’s much easier and more rewarding to keep a promise to someone else rather than themselves. Give to someone who can’t pay it back.
The options are truly endless, and can start right in your own home. Doing things like visiting nursing homes, donating food and clothing to charity, sending letters and cards (not email!) to family and friends, even just vowing to have more family dinners around the kitchen table, can have a profound effect on your life and health. Research shows that volunteering makes people feel healthier and improves their mood, stress levels and provides an overall sense of purpose. One study showed that volunteering created the greatest health benefit for people 40 years and older. The benefit increased as people got older and volunteered more.
In the end, there’s really no such thing as an unsuccessful New Year’s resolution. Every time you try to better your body, mind or spirit, it’s a good thing—and it can happen any time of year. The best way to form a healthy habit is to choose something you like to do or have been meaning to do for years, and just start doing it. The better you can seamlessly add your goal to your everyday life, the more likely you are to succeed.