How to Make Your New Year’s Resolutions Stick
If you think keeping a New Year's resolution is hard, you're right. According to a recent study out of the University of Scranton, only 8 percent of Americans are able to follow through with their resolutions. While this research may sound demoralizing, it also comes with a glimmer of hope by offering insight into how they were able to succeed.
Healthy Mind, Healthy Body
The vast majority of New Year's resolution center on weight loss and fitness. Like every other personal goal, however, these resolutions depend on healthy mental focus. When we make resolutions, we're usually especially motivated. Sadly, when this motivation wanes, many of us lose interest. To maintain your commitment over the long haul, you need to take a practical approach that will give you the best possible chance to succeed.
Start small: Don't make outlandish, unreasonable goals that will force you to make huge changes to your life. Instead, focus on attainable goals that will be easier to meet. If you want to improve your health, aim for three or four days a week at the gym, rather than five to seven. If you want to lose weight, replace your dessert with fruit or yogurt, instead of starving yourself with an unrealistic diet.
Focus on one change at a time: Because change is difficult, it requires all of your energy and attention. Don't spread yourself thin by trying to do too much. Focus on your most important goal and throw all your weight behind it.
Talk about it: When we talk about our goals, they become real. By sharing your personal promise with friends and family, you also put more pressure on yourself to save face by following through. Talking can also help us see that we're not alone, since it prompts others to share their personal struggles.
Create a routine: Like bad habits, good habits take a while to cultivate. Motivation is great for creating a resolution, but it won't last. Just like brushing your teeth, your new routine should become a relatively thoughtless practice. To cultivate this, make sure to commit to a regular schedule, being especially careful not to veer for the first three weeks. Once this period has passed, your mind and body are more likely to go into an autopilot of sorts, making it much easier to maintain a regular, healthy routine.
Get support: If possible, ask a friend to make the same resolution. This way, you can support each other when one is feeling less resilient. You may also be able to find local or online support groups with people who are dealing with similar struggles.