It’s exciting to make New Year’s resolutions and imagine the possibilities of losing weight, getting in shape, reducing stress. Then comes the challenge of sticking with the resolution as January drags on, motivation slumps and things come up that distract us. Most of us fail. But it is possible to succeed, so give yourself the best chance of keeping your New Year’s resolution by preparing, starting small and setting attainable goals.
The statistics are grim. Only 8-12 percent of people are able to achieve their New Year’s resolutions. This means that most people fail to meet their resolutions. Lack of preparation and unrealistic goals play a large part in this common failure. But some people are able to stick with their resolutions, so how do we join this group?
Choosing Attainable Goals
Avoid getting carried away with New Year’s resolutions; creating a whole new you at the start of the year won’t work. Choose one area to focus on and start with something small and specific. If you successfully meet your goal, then you can choose a new one and start working on that. If you want to lose weight, don’t make your resolution, “I’m going to lose weight this year.” Instead, choose a specific amount of weight to lose in a specific time period and keep it realistic, “I’m going to lose 10 pounds in the next three months.”
In addition to making your goals generally realistic, you need to make them realistic for you. If you aren’t in the habit of working out, it’s not realistic to resolve to work out for an hour six days a week. Instead, aim for 30 minutes three days a week, then gradually increase your workouts as you get used to the new routine.
Your goals should also be measurable. It should be easy to determine whether or not you’ve met them. Set specific goals and times when you’ll evaluate how you’re doing. Your goal may be to go to the gym every Tuesday and Friday at 6:00pm. At the end of the month, see how many times you met that goal and what happened on days you missed going to the gym.
Preparing for Resolutions
Good preparation is crucial for successfully sticking with a New Year’s resolution. Here are some tips for preparing:
- Research – Take time to learn about the change you want to make. Go to the library or look online for information about the subject, whether it’s becoming vegan, taking up running or quitting smoking.
- Plan for success – Get things ready so when the time comes you’re prepared to start. If you want to take up yoga, then sign up for a class, buy a new mat and get comfortable yoga clothes.
- Anticipate problems – There will be challenges and problems along the way, so think about what those might be and make a list. Are there certain times of day you don’t feel motivated? Certain situations where you’re likely to choose something that hinders your goal? Identify potential problems and work out ways to deal with them.
- Choose a start date – New Year’s Day is a common time to begin resolutions, but pick a time that works for you. Plan to start at a time when you’re likely to be enthusiastic, well-rested and supported by positive people.
- Make a commitment card – Write down your resolution on a notecard that you can carry with you or place somewhere you’ll see it often. Keep it short and positive to help you stay motivated.
Dealing with Failure
There are ups and downs in the process of achieving resolutions; you’re likely to experience both successes and failures. Don’t beat yourself up if you fail by missing a walk or sneaking a cigarette. Instead, take note of the triggers that contributed to the setback and learn from them. Use small failures to improve your plan for meeting the goal. Perseverance is key; keep on trying and you’ll make progress.
Tips for Success
Set yourself up for success with these tips:
- Reward yourself – Rewards are great encouragement and motivation. Set small, frequent rewards as you get started, then move to less frequent rewards as you get used to the new routine.
- Have a support system – Find a friend or trainer who can hold you accountable and encourage you when you don’t feel motivated.
- Snowball successes – Break down your resolution into even smaller goals that are easy to achieve, especially at first. Start with something you can achieve in the first two or three weeks. Small goals help you see successes more quickly, which builds your confidence and helps you stay motivated to meet more goals.
- Don’t overdo it – If you’re getting ready to start a resolution to lose weight, don’t overindulge in holiday treats. Adding extra pounds and reinforcing bad habits will just make it harder to meet your goals once you start.
- Be patient – Progress isn’t linear. You may see rapid gains, then hit a plateau or start slowly and then achieve significant breakthroughs. There are highs and lows along the way, but the important thing is to keep going and realize that it takes time to make lasting changes.
- Schedule it – Put your workout on your calendar or schedule time to clean out a closet. Scheduling it into your busy day helps you make time for achieving your goals.
- Do something – Don’t slip into all or nothing thinking. Hit the gym for twenty minutes instead of an hour if that’s what you have time for. Doing something is better than nothing and helps you build towards new habits.
Be the best you yet by setting yourself up for success with your New Year’s resolution.