How to Make New Year’s Resolutions Stick
posted by The Live Better Team | December 21, 2017
With the year 2017 winding down and 2018 is on the horizon, many people are starting to think about what they will set as New Year’s resolutions. The exact origin of New Year’s resolutions isn’t known, but there are many documented civilizations in history that participated in some type of beginning-of-the-year ritual resolving to be better in the coming year.
Today approximately half of Americans set some type of New Year’s resolution, often related to improving physical, mental or financial well-being, or improving your career, but there is little evidence that many people succeed in meeting these goals. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t set resolutions, but it may help to follow these tips in order to stick with them.
Start your resolution-setting by identifying your top priorities. Not every health-related resolution will carry the same importance, for example, but some may be more important than others. If being overweight has put you at risk of developing diabetes, losing 20 pounds might be more important for you in the short term, for example, than fitting into a specific clothing size–the latter might be a stretch goal, but it’s not immediately important to your overall health.
You may want to consult with your physician about what some of your resolutions should be, since he or she can identify areas where small lifestyle changes could lead to significantly improved overall health. You may also use last year’s goals, including those you succeeded in and those you did not, for setting resolutions this year.
If you’ve failed at a resolution in the past, it can sometimes be hard to want to set a new resolution in a coming year. Whether you’re trying something for the first time or you’ve tried multiple times in the past, think about your previous attempts to achieve a goal, focusing on what you could have done differently, and also what worked well that you can carry over for next time. Through this approach, you’ll get a better understanding of what prevents you from achieving your goals so you can take different steps this time that will hopefully lead to more success.
An important part of achieving goals is setting realistic expectations, and being able to take small steps toward them. Trying to consume the entire apple in a single bite, so to speak, can be a daunting task and can cause some people to quit. Tackling large goals with smaller steps will allow you to see some success along the way, which can motivate you to keep going.
It’s important to remember that the weight loss or other health goals itself is often not the reward for sticking to your resolutions throughout the year. Rather, the overall health and wellness and improvement in your life are the ultimate rewards; people who are healthier often feel better and have more energy than those who are less healthy. Remembering this can help boost your desire to keep going when goals get harder.
Many people find that exercising with others can boost motivation and exercise enjoyment. Having a partner or a group you frequently exercise with will keep everyone accountable, which can be a significant factor in continuing with those goals.
The best way for many people to stay accountable is to create a schedule for accomplishing your goals. Scheduling everything ensures you keep working on your goals and provides those small steps and milestones that keep you on track.
Many people also find it helps to write down resolutions in a daily planner or journal, then review these frequently (daily, weekly) and check progress. Resolutions should be quantifiable and simple to track for maximum impact.
Research shows that your mindset has a major impact on health and well-being. Set a resolution to counter negative thoughts with positive ones whenever they come up. This may feel strange at first, but over time, you can strengthen this positive inner voice by nurturing it. This will make it easier to support your body.
Similarly, look for the kinds of resolutions and fitness goals that are fun for you and make you happy. It will be much easier to stick with goals if they’re enjoyable.
Finally, use your healthcare team, including your family doctor, as part of your support system to identify and set New Year’s resolutions, and help you stay on track toward achieving them.
“How 9 Health Experts Stick to Their Resolutions.” WebMD. https://www.webmd.com/a-to-z-guides/features/health-experts-advice-to-reach-your-goals
“10 Tricks for Setting – and Sticking to – Your Health New Year’s Resolution.” EverydayHealth.com. https://www.everydayhealth.com/denise-austin/10-tricks-for-setting-and-sticking-to-your-healthy-new-years-resolution.aspx
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a medical professional. You should always consult your doctor before making decisions about your health.