Have you ever wondered why it’s so tough to stick to your new year’s resolutions? According to Statistics Brain Research Institute, only 9.2% of Americans feel like they have achieved their resolutions in the past year. Here are some strategies from psychologist and behaviour change expert, Dr Paul Marciano, and the American Psychological Association to help you with sticking to your resolutions this year.
- Set realistic resolutions
Most of us are guilty of making impractical resolutions that we can’t keep. For example, we aim to exercise more regularly, from barely going to the gym once a week, to aiming for seven days. Instead of setting unrealistic resolutions, you can try starting with something that’s small, practical and within your abilities. Rather than aiming for seven days of exercise, you could start with three or four. Josh Klapow, an Alabama-based clinical psychologist says, “It is far better to succeed at a smaller, more manageable resolution than to fail at a larger, loftier one.”
- Have patience
Bad habits develop over time. Similarly, it also takes time to substitute bad habits for good ones. When making resolutions, we often overestimate ourselves and try to re-evaluate our lives. We have to accept that development is rarely consistent and aim to change one behaviour at a time. Hence, having the patience to work through on resolution at a time will help you stick to them.
- Talk about your goals
Having support from your social group is vital. Sharing your goals with friends and family increases the chances of success. Rather than trying to achieve your goal alone, you could join a fitness class at a gym, join a support group to quit smoking, or even just have someone to check in on your progress (accountability partner). Having social support and people to share successes and failures will make the process less daunting.
- Be resilient
Resilience is vital in achieving your resolutions. When you slip-up and get discouraged, it is important to remember that it’s impossible to achieve perfection. Just because you were busy and didn’t manage to go for your gym classes doesn’t mean that you have failed and should give up your goal to be fit. What is critical is to bounce back from your mistakes and continue to work towards your goal. According to founder of MoneyCrashers, Andrew Schrage, it is useful to set targets throughout the year, so that you can keep yourself in check and your momentum going.
- Get support
When you’re feeling overpowered when trying to achieve your resolutions, it is important to remember people who can listen and care for you. Seeking professional help can reinforce your resilience and manage stress stemming from your resolution. For example, a psychologist can suggest ways for you to fine-tune your goals to make them more achievable.
- Make your resolutions more precise
Dr. Marciano recommends setting specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-bound (SMART) goals. Instead of just setting a goal to lose weight, you should be more specific and aim for a particular weight or body-fat percentage goal, or allocate a time every day to go for a run.
- Track your development
Reflecting on your starting point and the developments you have made creates feedback loops. This allows you to track improvements during your endeavour and it will be an incentive to continue. It also enables you to reflect and adjust your strategies accordingly when you’re declining or when you’re not improving as much.
- Set aside time for your goals
Allocate time for your resolutions and make them a priority by putting them on your schedule. This way, you won’t have the excuse of not being able to find the time to complete something. If you’re trying to get fit, block out certain hours of the day to complete your run or schedule certain fitness classes into your calendar. Treating your fitness classes or runs as though they are scheduled appointments can help you stick to them.
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