The beginning of a new year is an ideal time to commence something anew, which may explain why so many individuals make New Year’s resolutions.
The start of a new year can be seen as a time to reset and create new habits that will improve your psychological, emotional, social, physical, or intellectual wellbeing.
It’s easier to make resolutions than to keep them, and many of us go back to our old habits by the end of March. The issue may stem from a lack of understanding of how to maintain New Year’s resolutions, despite having good intentions.
Why We Make Resolutions
Why do millions of people make resolutions at the beginning of every year? Researchers have been studying the “fresh start effect,” which is the idea that certain moments in time can motivate people to pursue their goals.
Many people feel that the new year is a time for new beginnings, which is why they often set goals for themselves during this time.
Sometimes people try to do more than they can handle, but taking on resolutions can be a good way to practice self-control, determination, and resourcefulness.
Perceptions of the success of these resolutions vary. Around 12% of people who make New Year’s resolutions felt that they were successful in achieving their goals, according to one study.
Ways in Sticking with New Year’s Resolutions
1. Choose a Specific Goal
Every year, millions of adults resolve to make a change in their lives such as losing weight, being more productive, or getting in shape.
It is better to choose a specific and achievable goal rather than a vague one. In other words, choose a very specific, achievable goal.
Choose an example that is relevant to you. For example, you might commit to losing 10 pounds, making daily to-do lists, or running a half-marathon. It’s important to set realistic goals for yourself rather than drastic ones.
If you choose a goal that is concrete and achievable, you will be more likely to stick to it and accomplish it over the course of the year. You will also be able to plan out exactly how you are going to achieve your goal.
2. Limit Your Resolutions
While you may have a long list of potential New Year’s resolutions, Professor Richard Wiseman of Hertfordshire University suggests choosing just one to focus your energy on, rather than spreading yourself too thin with multiple objectives.
Focus on One Goal at a Time
Accomplishing a minor task can give you more confidence in yourself. To achieve larger goals, it may be helpful to break them into smaller, more manageable pieces to work on one at a time.
Focusing on only one behavior at a time is more likely to be successful in the long term.
If you try to do too much at once, it can be overwhelming. Changing your behavior can be tough since it takes time and effort to create new habits. If you have a specific goal in mind, it will be much easier to stick to your resolution.
3. Put Time Into Planning
Do not wait until the last minute to choose your goal. You need to be smart about your choices and plan carefully if you want to achieve your goals.
Brainstorming how you will tackle a major behavior change can help you to stick to your goals. Make a plan that includes the steps you will take, why you want to do it, and ways you can keep yourself on track.
Make a Detailed Plan
Creating a detailed written plan can help you stay on track and achieve your goal. Why is this stage so critical for success? When you’re planning ahead for something, it allows you to think about what you will do when you face challenges.
What will you do to stick to your resolution when things get tough?
If you don’t have a plan for achieving your goal, you may give up when you encounter obstacles.
If your goal is to run three times per week and you have missed four days in a row, you may need to reevaluate your goal. If you need to take time off for an illness or injury, you may need to adjust your goal.
You can achieve your goal by making a list of actions you need to take and any potential obstacles that could stop you.
If you know what your goals are and the challenges you might face, you will be more likely to stick to your resolution and overcome anything that might get in your way.
4. Start With Small Steps
One of the main reasons why New Year’s resolutions fail is because people try to do too much too fast.
If you want to be successful in making changes to your lifestyle, it is best to avoid sudden and drastic changes. Diets that are overly restrictive, working out to the point of exhaustion, and making other major changes to your routine are more likely to make you give up on your goals. Instead of worrying about the end goal, focus on taking small steps that will help you get there.
Small Steps Lead to Success
- If you have resolved to run a marathon, start out by going for a jog two or three times a week. Slowly, work up to longer runs and exercising more days per week.
- If you are trying to eat healthier, start by replacing a few less healthy foods with more nutritious options. Then, tackle another element of your diet, such as adding in a greater variety of vegetables, reducing portion size, and/or cutting back on fried food or eating out.
Although it might appear to be a sluggish beginning, these gradual incremental changes make it more effortless to adhere to your new healthy habits and magnify the probability of long-term achievement.
5. Avoid Repeating Past Failures
One way to help make sure you stick to your New Year’s resolution is to not make the same resolution every year. If you think you can do something your chances for success improve. However, if you have failed in the past, your self-confidence will be low.
If you are choosing to pursue the same goals as you have in the past, take some time to evaluate your past results. Which strategies were the most effective? Which were the least effective? What are some things that have gotten in the way of you sticking to your New Year’s resolutions in the past?
You may want to consider changing your resolution a bit to make it more achievable. If you change your approach, you will be more likely to achieve your goals this year.
6. Turn It Into A Habit
Think about a time when you woke up, washed your face, brushed your teeth, and then spent the next 30 minutes working towards your goal. Looking ahead without blinking, not thinking about what you’re doing because it’s become instinctive.
The ability to achieve any goal you set for yourself is the ultimate dream for anyone. The way to get there is daily commitment.
It is best to set aside the same amount of time each day to work on your goal. Make sure that you don’t have a day where you don’t do anything. This can often result in self-doubt and eventually giving up.
If someone is looking to quit a bad habit, it can be helpful to find a healthier activity to replace it. In place of cigarettes, try meditating, drinking ice-cold water or doing a mini-tea ceremony.
7. Don’t Tell People Too Soon, But When It’s Time, Shout It From The Tree Tops
The study found that people who announced their goals while they were still vague, had a false sense of accomplishment. This is because the goals were too vague to follow through on in a comprehensive manner, so nothing ended up happening.
Social accountability is important, but don’t move too quickly. Although it may be tempting, try to avoid getting too caught up in telling others about your goals. It’s important to stay focused and use that energy to work towards your goals instead.
8. Track Your Progress
Determining which of your actions has the largest effect can help you figure out what to change. 20 percent of your actions are responsible for 80 percent of the results if you believe in the Pareto principle (the 80/20 rule). Some of the things you do may be unnecessary.
If you keep track of your progress, you can focus on different things to see what works best and then get rid of the things that don’t work.
Success is attainable by reminding yourself that you are on the path to success. If you’re successful for a long period of time, it will be difficult to stop suddenly.
Your perspective on life has a lot to do with how you experience your daily life. If you focus on the negative, you are more likely to give up than if you focus on the progress you make.
Being negative all the time is not fun for anyone, so if you are a Negative Nancy, try to give yourself a break and focus on the progress you have made, no matter how small it may be.
Write huge check marks next to every day you managed to stick to your goals, or mini-celebrate every minor milestone to keep your focus where it should be.
10. Be Careful When You Reward Yourself
If people focus too much on making progress, they might start to do things that are actually counterproductive. This is a problem mainly for people who are trying to lose weight.
Would you reward yourself with unhealthy foods after making progress, or does that seem too obviously counterproductive?
If you don’t recognize the progress you’re making, you’ll lose motivation and might even quit eventually. Be proud of your accomplishments, but don’t let it become too much.
If you want to lose weight, try to reward yourself with something other than food. Maybe try a warm bath with some classical music, your favorite hobby, hanging out with friends, or watching a great movie.
11. Partner With Someone
There are many benefits to having a partner when you are attempting something challenging. In addition to providing company and support, a partner can help you stay motivated and on track. You can keep each other in check. If you’re trying to do something without help, it can be tempting to give yourself a break for no reason.
A partner will see through any BS and keep you accountable so that you’re always making progress.
If you notice that someone you’re friends with is starting to have a negative influence on you, it’s best to distance yourself from them as much as possible. If someone is doing better than you, don’t let that make you feel discouraged. Awaken your competitive instincts and catch up!
12. Try Stick
People who have a financial incentive to lose weight are more successful at doing so than those who don’t.
People tend to prefer avoiding losses over the potential for making money. Try using Stickk if you want to give yourself a reward for succeeding.
Stickk is a website where you end up giving money to a charity you disagree with if you should fail.
How this is motivating of course depends on how much money you choose to commit as there is no set amount. If you are successful, you will get your money back to do whatever you want.
13. Truly Believe You Can Do It
Some people believe that this is the first step, but it is not always the case. I have seen people who do not have faith in themselves go through the motions, gradually seeing some improvement and then eventually believing that it is possible. In fact, I’ve been one of them as well.
Once you realize that you can achieve your goal, it becomes easier to commit yourself fully to achieving it.
Instead of starting out failing and confirming doubts we had about our ability to push through, we start small and work our way up.
14. Even If You Fail Once, Keep Going
The moment you give up is the moment you fail, not before. It doesn’t matter if you give in and smoke one cigarette as long as you continue trying to quit. If you fail at something, don’t try to make it seem like a bigger deal than it is. It can negatively affect your motivation.
I remember one time I caved and ate unhealthy food for one day and I almost completely gave up the idea of losing weight, defaulting into my old thinking where I would blame my parents and fate.
You still have plenty of time left in the New Year. Don’t give up on your commitment just because it gets tough.
Every year doesn’t have to be a disappointment when it comes to setting resolutions. The difference between success and failure can often be choosing the right goal to begin with and using the most effective process to achieve it.
You should be flexible and understanding with yourself, and stay positive by celebrating your progress every day.