Sticking to a New Year’s Resolution
The beginning of a new year feels like a fresh start, which is probably why so many of us resolve to improve something about ourselves. Unfortunately, New Year’s resolutions can be hard to stick to. Whether you’re a parent or a teen, today’s blog will help you follow through on making your resolution become a reality.
Be realistic. Create a goal that is attainable. We typically do not follow through on resolutions that are vague or that are focused on what we believe society expects of us instead of something we really want for ourselves. Experts say that, for real change to occur, your goal must be specific, measurable, and meaningful to you.
Focus on one goal at a time. Don’t create ten resolutions covering everything you ever wanted to change about yourself. The American Psychological Association reports that focusing on changing just one behavior at a time is more likely to lead to long-term success.
Plan ahead. Making changes at the beginning of the new year feels important to us, but the timing is actually arbitrary. We can resolve to make a change or set a new goal for ourselves anytime during the year. So, don’t choose some random goal at 11 p.m. on New Year’s Eve that doesn’t mean anything simply because of the date. Instead, take time to pick your resolution wisely, even if that means you start working towards your goal after the start of the new year. Once you choose a meaningful goal, brainstorm how you will tackle a major behavior change, including the steps you will take, why you want to do it, what tactics you will use when faced with challenges, and ways you can keep yourself on track.
Break it down. Taking on too much too quickly is a common reason why so many New Year’s resolutions fail. Instead, look at your larger goal and decide what is the smallest baby step you can take towards that goal. You must break the larger resolution into many smaller steps to create a sustainable path forward. Jumping into a very restrictive diet, overdoing it at the gym, or radically altering 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.
Track and reward progress. When we first begin a new goal, we tend to feel confident and highly motivated. Over time, dealing with the discomfort and temptations associated with the behavior change can cause our motivation to dwindle. To stick with your resolution, you must keep remotivating yourself, so keep track of your progress and reward yourself every time you reach one of your small short-term steps on the way to your larger goal.
Get support. Research shows that having a support system helps us stay motivated and accountable. So, don’t keep your resolution a secret. Tell friends and family members who will be there to support you. The best-case scenario is to find a buddy who shares your goal so that you can work on it together and motivate each other.
Reframe failure. The most common reason people give up on their resolutions is because of a slip-up. If you suddenly relapse into a bad habit, don’t view it as a failure, but rather a learning opportunity. Consider what triggered the relapse and what you might do differently next time. If you learn from the mistake, you can actually be in a better position to be successful moving forward.
Those unhealthy or undesired habits that you are trying to change probably took years to develop, so how can you expect to change them in just a matter of days, weeks, or months? Experts say it takes about 21 days for a new activity to become a habit and six months for it to become part of your personality. Be compassionate with yourself. Understand that working toward your resolution is a process.