New Year's Resolutions You Can Really Keep

Making New Year’s Resolutions?

Don’t we all? This time-honored tradition is a rite of passage at the end of every year. It’s an opportunity for us to begin fresh and be inspired to make much-needed changes. What’s particularly daunting, however, is where to begin.

Why Do We Often Fail to Keep Our Resolutions?

Studies have shown that only about 10% of adults who make resolutions manage to keep them. There may be many reasons why we don’t often take New Year’s resolutions seriously:
  • Resolutions that are too ambitious; we may be setting ourselves up for failure by aiming too high. If a resolution takes more than 6 months to achieve, there’s a good chance that we won’t follow it through.
  • Making a long, complicated list of resolutions; if we overwhelm ourselves with too many goals, it’s easier to rationalize why we couldn’t reach our goals.

Starting the New Year off on the Right Foot

The secret to winning at New Year’s resolutions is knowing what to work on. After all, we’re less likely to succeed if we make drastic changes all at once. The secret is in knowing which challenges you want to tackle. Here are a few ideas;

  • Work on one resolution at a time. It’s hard enough quitting smoking, but if you add going to the gym and changing your diet, there’s a good chance that you’ll be discouraged and give up.
  • Choose a goal that can be accomplished quickly – say, within 2-4 weeks. That way, you’ll have instant gratification which will spur you on to complete more difficult goals.
  • Similarly, begin with a goal that is relatively easy to accomplish. They are no less significant for being relatively easy.
  • Choose a goal that can be broken down into smaller parts and list specific behaviors. Then repeat that behavior over and over.
  • Put your goals on paper. Better yet, add them to your monthly calendar. You’re more likely to stay on target if you can see your plan. A journal can be a helpful tool for this purpose.

Some Of The Most Popular Resolutions And How To Keep Them

  • Exercising more – this is by far one of the most popular New Year’s resolutions, and one of the most difficult to stick to. Without a Personal Trainer, it can be hard to stay motivated. By following the suggestions above, you can make it easier. For example, commit to a 30-Day Challenge, place exercise equipment where you will see it every day, and add specific behaviors like taking the stairs or parking your car further away when shopping. Reward yourself for a job well done with a favorite movie, massage, or night out with friends. Remind yourself why exercise is important. And be patient. Results don’t come overnight.
  • Not stressing the small stuff – this attitude change could actually lengthen your life. Optimists tend to live longer than pessimists, and they have more fun! Practice making lists – listing your blessings, pros vs cons, and post inspirational quotes. Keep them in your wallet and read them regularly. Find someone who is going through difficult times and cheer them up. Keep a diary in order to pinpoint your negative self-talk. Ask yourself “What’s the worst that could happen?” Any or all of these exercises can help you change your outlook from glass-half-empty to glass-half-full.
  • Getting a good night’s sleep – this seems to be more and more elusive, perhaps in part due to our over-dependence on electronic devices. Exposure to these devices can affect our sleep cycle, leading to restless sleep. Try watching the news in the morning instead of just before bead. Keep your bedroom cool and free of electronics. Use essential oils like Lavender or supplements like Melatonin according to instructions. Maintain a regular bedtime ritual that helps to relax you. And see a doctor if your insomnia is severe.
  • Eating a healthier diet – this one is often on the top of everyone’s list, but it’s not as easy as it sounds. Begin by eliminating one food at a time. Do not skip meals or cut too many calories; it doesn’t work and it can cause illness. Replace an unhealthy snack with a healthy, tasty alternative. Keep a food diary or use a smartphone app – but only if you can stick with it! Keeping things simple and taking it slow can help you stay on track and avoid disappointment.

So now that you know how to do New Year’s resolutions right, what are you waiting for? Good luck!

The psychology of New Year's resolutions
Huffington Post article on New Year's resolutions
Johns Hopkins article about making healthy New Year's resolutions