Every New Year, at the stoke of Midnight, we are encouraged into changing a habit or turning a new page. A New Year is the perfect time to make a change! This is probably why so many people make New Year’s Resolutions. However, resolutions are so much easier to make than keep. Usually, by the end of March, many of us have abandoned our resolution and settled back into our old ways (1).
So, what can you do to make it more likely that you will keep your next resolution? The following tips may help you beat the odds.
#1 Choose a Specific Goal
Every year, a large number of people resolve to "lose weight," "be more productive," or "get in shape" during the next year. Instead of choosing such a huge, ambiguous and vague goal, focus on something more concrete that you can realistically set your sights on. Make sure you choose a very specific, achievable goal. For example, you might commit to losing one stone or run 5km.
#2 Limit Your Resolutions
While you might have a long list of potential New Year's resolutions, and things you want to change, it is definitely easier to focus your time and energy on one goal rather than spreading yourself too thin among many goals.
By achieving one small goal at a time, you are able to boost your belief in yourself. For bigger and more ambitious goals, it might be easier to break them down into manageable chunks and to work on one at a time. Research has suggested that focusing on one behaviour at a time is more likely to lead to long-term success. (2)
#3 Put Time into your Plan
It might not be the best idea to wait until the 1st January to decide your goal/ resolution. Don't wait until the last minute. Picking your resolution wisely and putting in a lot of planning are integral parts of achieving any goal.
Creating a detailed written plan can help you stick to your goal. But why is this planning stage so important for success? Firstly, it allows you to consider what tactics you will use when you're faced with barriers to success. When things get difficult, what strategies will you use to stay on the path toward making your resolution a reality?
#4 Start with Small Steps
Taking on too much too quickly is a common reason why so many New Year's resolutions fail. Dramatically slashing calories, overdoing it at the gym, or radically changing your normal behavior are surefire ways to derail your plans. Instead, focus on taking tiny steps that will ultimately help you reach your larger goal.
Want to run that 5km? Start with a 1km fast walk or slow run. Want to eat healthier? Replace a chocolate bar with some fruit and go from there.
Slow and steady wins the race…
#5 Avoid Repeating Past Failures
Another key tip for sticking to your New Year's resolution is to not make the exact same resolution year after year. If you think you can do it, you can! But if you’ve tried to do it and failed, your self-belief will be low.
If you do choose the same goals you've tried for in the past, spend some time evaluating your previous results. Figure out which strategies were the most effective, which were the least effective. What has prevented you from keeping your resolution in past years? Consider altering your resolution slightly to make it more achievable. By changing your approach, you will be more likely to see real results this year.
#6 Change is a Process
Those habits you want to change or alter probably was a result of years of development. So, how do you expect to change them in a few days or weeks? Cut yourself some slack and be patient with yourself. Come to terms with the fact that this is a process and if you take a step backwards you can still continue on your journey towards achieving your goals.
Remember, it may also take longer than you would like to achieve your goals, but resolutions are not a race to the finish. Once you have made the commitment to changing something, it may be something that you continue to work on for the rest of your life.
#7 Get Support
Having a good support system can keep you accountable and motivated. You could potentially find someone with the same or similar goals and go through the process together?
#8 Renew Your Motivation
Once the clock has struck Midnight and you’re thrown into the New Year, you will probably feel confident and highly motivated to reach your goal. Because you haven't really faced any discomfort or temptation associated with changing your behavior, you might underestimate the challenges ahead.
After dealing with the reality of dragging yourself to the gym at 6 a.m. or gritting your teeth through headaches brought on by nicotine withdrawal, your motivation to keep your New Year's resolution may start to fade.
When this happens, remind yourself exactly why you are doing this. Think about (or write a list to keep handy) of what you have to gain by achieving your objective. Finding and revisiting sources of inspiration can keep you going when times get tough.
#9 Keep Working on Your Goals
Like I said, after a few months, many people have lost that initial spark of motivation that they had in January. Keep that inspiration alive by continuing to work on your goals, even after facing setbacks. If your current approach is not working, reevaluate your strategies, and develop a new plan. Being flexible with your plan—and even your end objective—will help you be successful. A journal is a good way to do this! Keep yourself accountable and track your progress. You can discuss your difficulties and reflect on your experiences.
Find the Health Journal here.
#10 Learn and Adapt
Facing a setback is one of the most common reasons why people give up on their New Year's resolutions. If you suddenly fall back into your bad habit, don't view it as a failure. The path toward your goal is not always a straight one, and there will often be challenges along the way. Instead, view relapses as learning opportunities.
If you are keeping a resolution journal, write down important information about when the relapse occurred, what might have triggered it, and what you might do differently next time. By understanding the challenges you face, you will be better prepared to deal with them in the future.
Hope this helps with your New Year’s Resolution!
Happy New Year from Lovendu!!
Oscarsson M, Rozental A, Andersson G, Carlbring P. New Year's resolutions: a large scale randomized controlled trial. 9th Swedish Congress on Internet Interventions. 2017.