A New Year is often celebrated and with it comes a fresh start, new opportunities and those famous New Year’s resolutions. These resolutions give us something to root for and a goal to chase at the start of the New Year, but just as easy as they are to come up with, they seem to be just as easy to forget.
In fact, a study conducted by researchers at the University of Scranton found that 23% of people quit working on their resolutions within just two weeks of the New Year. This number is not meant to be discouraging but it shows just how difficult it can be to hold ourselves to these resolutions.
New Year Resolutions can range from losing weight, getting out of debt, improving health or any wide range of things one may wish to improve. However, since only 19% of people stick to their goals long-term, here are a few tips to help you stick to yours.
- Create a measurable goal: When creating a measurable goal, it’s important to avoid creating a vague resolution such as, “I want to get healthier.” Vague goals will leave you feeling like you’re reaching your goal on some days and other days you will feel that you are not. This level of indecision will lead you to feel lost and leave you more inclined to lose motivation. It is best to create a more measurable goal like, “I want to go to the gym three nights per week,” as this will give you a clear goal and target to aim for.
- Identify a plan: If your goal is lose weight or get out of debt for example, it’s important to clearly identify steps that will help you get there. When creating a plan, include bullet points that will help create change and are clearly identifiable and attainable. For example, create a plan with objectives, like eating a salad for lunch every day, as committing to these actions will help you get closer to your goal.
- Try to make it easy: When beginning the process, it’s easy to feel motivated and have a strong desire to conquer your goal. However, after a few weeks, it’s also common for the motivation to naturally wane, which makes it more difficult to stick to your goal. To prepare yourself for the inevitable dip in motivation, it’s important to take steps to set yourself up for success and make bad habits inconvenient and good habits convenient. For example, keep your workout gear packed and ready to go or store the junk food in a hard to reach place. These steps will make it easier to stick to your good habits and stay away from those bad habits.
- Start with small steps: It’s common to be fully motivated and start with a large goal, but often its small steps that can be most effective. Taking on too much too quickly is a common reason why some of our New Year’s resolutions fail. Starting a diet that is too restrictive, overdoing it at the gym or severely altering your normal behavior are surefire ways to derail your plans. Instead, it is recommended that you focus on tiny steps that will ultimately aid you in increasing your larger goal. For example, if your goal is to eat healthier, one can start by replacing some of their less healthy foods with more nutritious options and then from there, slowly tackle other parts of their diets in a methodical way.
- Avoid past failures: When coming up with your latest resolution, it’s important to not make the same resolution year after year, since, if you failed in the past, your self-belief may be low. Starting with a new challenge and having fresh obstacles gives one the best chance to be successful. However, if you do choose to pick a goal you may have chosen in the past, it’s important to reflect on your previous results and determine a better strategy so this time can be different.
- Change is a process: When contemplating a change or resolution, it’s important to remember that change is a process. Just as it has possibly taken years to develop the habits we hope to break, we have to remember that it will also be a process to develop new habits and break old ones. As stated above, resolutions are a process and even after a misstep or two, you can restart and continue your journey towards your goal.
- Track your progress: As we discussed, maintaining motivation can often be the most difficult part of keeping a New Year’s resolution. This is where tracking your progress can be really beneficial. Tracking your progress will help keep you on track and let you know if you’re headed in the right direction. A few recommendations include using a calendar to check off days as you work on your goal or creating a chart or spreadsheet that helps you visualize the process.
- Manage resolutions: The start to a New Year can be a breath of fresh air and lead to these fresh opportunities and challenges we are seeking. However, we also have to be careful not to choose too many resolutions or take on too many challenges at once. It is recommended that you choose just one resolution to place your energy on as spreading yourself too thin will make it more difficult to be successful.