Every year on January 1st, the world promises itself to do better. Some people quit smoking, some start a new diet, while still others declare they will cut back on overspending. New Year’s resolutions are nothing new, and neither is the failure many people feel a few weeks later. Why is it so hard for us to keep our promises to ourselves?
According to studies, nearly 50% of people make New Year’s resolutions but only 8% of those people actually succeed in meeting their resolutions. Typically people do very well in meeting their goals during the first two weeks, but start to crumble soon after.
Why can’t we commit? Firstly, people often set unrealistic targets and see any relapse as complete failure. Also, most resolutions are trying to quit something that honestly feels good, something that stimulates dopamine production in our brains. Finally, people often make a resolution to change, when they actually are not ready to commit.
With these problems associated with New Year resolutions, what can we do to ensure this year’s resolution really sticks? Here are a few tips and tricks that are proven to help us push through and really create positive change in the new year!
1. Practice Makes Perfect
Research has shown that iron strong willpower isn’t something you are born with or without. Willpower, believe it or not, is just like a muscle that can be exercised and made stronger. With practice, anyone can increase their will power to conquer even the toughest temptations. Just by practicing small acts of restraint, you can begin to increase your capability to control yourself. By building on this skill, you are sure to be able to kick even the toughest habits.
2. Baby Steps
When designing your 2017 New Year’s resolution, it’s important not to go too big. The smaller the resolution, the easier it will be to accomplish. For example, instead of committing to a work out everyday, why not aim for 3 times a week to begin? That way, the target it closer and easier for to reach. As you accomplish the smaller goals, you can then set the target farther away. No use setting yourself up for a giant failure, when smaller goals will give you the confidence boost you need to keep going.
3. Break up Big Goals into Small Wins
Following on the idea of not going too big, why not break up your resolution into easy to handle parts. For example, trying to lose ten pounds is actually a series of smaller decisions such as exercising more, buying healthier food, and avoiding take out. Why not then make a few smaller goals for yourself, like avoiding takeout food for an entire week? Or only buying healthy groceries during your weekly shopping trip. That way, as you conquer each small win, you will also take steps towards your larger goal.
4. Reward yourself Along the Way
Just because you have committed to getting healthier in the new year, doesn’t mean you can’t still reward yourself! Studies have shown that when we feel good, we also have stronger willpower. So why not reward yourself after a week of exercise to a spa day? Or going out to see a movie? Pick a reward that will motivate you to reach your goals but not compromise them.
5. Boost your Blood Sugar
Despite the fact that many people kick sugar in the new year, there are some statistics out there that show how restraint over an extended period of time can actually lower blood sugar levels, which in turn diminish the restraint. It’s a good idea to have an apple, or a glass of orange juice handy just in case you are tempted by that bad habit. That way, you have all the available tools in your belt to avoid triggers.
6. Focus on Today
What is something you can do right now to accomplish your resolution? Try not to stress about next week, or next month. Today, you can work on small steps that in the bigger scheme will help you kick those bad habits (or start good ones).
7. Remember your Wins
Habits take 40 days to stick, therefore on your journey this year don’t lose sight of the goal even if you take a few steps in the wrong direction. Two steps forward and one step back is still great progress, always keep reminding yourself of just how well you have done so far. Positive thoughts go a long way in terms of self motivation and do much more for you (and your resolution) than negative energy.
8. Understand Triggers
Typically New Year’s resolutions revolve around kicking bad habits like junk food, wasted time on social media, or smoking. Bad habits also tend to have triggers that set us off. Before kicking off your resolution, why not write down all the associated triggers? By knowing your triggers in advance you can avoid them, or at least be ready to confront them when they appear.
9. Inspire yourself Through your Senses
Inspiration boards are proven to work. A visible and daily reminder of what you are striving for is a good tool to add to your repertoire. Are you are saving money for a new home? Why not post a picture of your dream home on your fridge? If you are trying to eat healthier, why not sign up for daily recipes sent directly to your inbox? Anything to help you keep the goal in sight.
10. Avoid Temptations
Finally, temptation is everywhere, learn to avoid it. If you are working on cutting back on alcohol, why not suggest other fun social activities to your friends before they suggest going out for drinks? If you are trying not to spend money, freeze your credit cards in the freezer so they are not within easy reach! Be creative!