How to Stick to Your New Year’s Resolutions
We’ve all heard the statistics: at least 80 percent of people who set New Year’s resolutions fail by Valentine’s Day. The further into the year you get, the less likely you are to keep up with your goal. Some research shows that as little as 8 percent of U.S. residents achieve their resolutions at all. So how can you be a part of that 8 percent? The secret to successful resolutions lies in their creation.
One of the top reasons resolutions fail is because they are too broad, vague or unclear. “I want to lose weight” is not a specific goal; it’s a desire. Lofty ideals that lack precision are an invitation for your resolutions to evaporate into a hazy dream within weeks. To make sure your resolution is as specific as it needs to be, address who, what, when, where, why and how you intend to achieve that goal. For example, a more specific version of the aforementioned goal would be: “I want to lose 30 pounds by June to lower my blood pressure. I will achieve that goal by running for 30 minutes twice a week.”
If you’ve historically had difficulty sticking to a resolution but specificity isn’t your downfall, then it’s likely that attainability is. Just like a goal that is too vague can ruin a good intention, an objective that is unrealistic can squash any possibility of achieving your goal. This doesn’t mean that dreaming big is bad for you, nor does it mean that you will never reach your ultimate goal, but if your ideal endpoint is too big, it can make the everyday movement toward it feel boring and monotonous. Make sure that you set small goals along the way so you can mark your success throughout the process.
Once you have set a goal that is specific and attainable, select a friend, family member or spouse that can check in with you on a regular basis. The best person for this job is not someone who is extremely empathetic, a people-pleaser or adamantly avoids conflict. While there is value to each of these characteristics in the right context, they are not traits that will be beneficial in helping you stick to your goals. Find a friend who is direct enough to push you but compassionate enough to encourage you when you slack off, then ask them to check in with you once a week.
Once you’ve set your goal and found a partner to keep you accountable, the last step is making sure you can easily chart your progress. This might take the form of a fitness journal, a budgeting app or a simple calendar to check off each day you’ve completed your task. The arrangement of your tracking will differ depending on what your resolution is, but that’s okay. The important aspect is that you can easily see your progress — this will motivate you to continue to work hard and achieve results.
While it may not be one of the biggest factors of developing an achievable goal, there’s one more factor that does play a large part in your likelihood of success: the grace you allow yourself. Only 8 percent of people achieve their goals for a reason: starting a new habit is hard, especially if it entails something you wouldn’t normally enjoy doing. There will be days that you skip a workout, forget to meditate or avoid doing whatever your resolution entails. Being hard on yourself will not help you do better the following day. When those days occur, simply focus on being better than you were the day before; that in itself is a success.
- Lifestyle Staff