Have you struggled to stick to New Year’s goals in the past? If your enthusiasm for resolutions starts to wane by the end of January, we have some advice to keep you on track.
Following are seven tips for holding fast to your goals for 2018.
1. Reassess resolutions
If — or more likely “when” — your enthusiasm for resolutions begins to flag, re-evaluate those pledges. Perhaps you selected the wrong goals.
For example, maybe you should lose weight, but aren’t motivated to do so now. In that case, making a weight-loss resolution can be a recipe for failure. Instead, focus on a goal that excites you.
Or, perhaps you’ve picked vague goals that are difficult to gauge. Eating healthy sounds good, but what does that mean? Instead, break down goals into smaller, actionable steps.
Rather than “eating healthy,” your resolution could be one of these:
- No eating between meals
- Skip taking seconds
- Only eat at the table
- Eat a fruit or a vegetable at every meal
- Stop eating after 8 p.m.
Whatever your goal, making sure resolutions are specific and practical can increase your likelihood of following through.
2. Pare goals
When reassessing resolutions, consider paring the list as well. Having too many resolutions in place at one time can tax willpower.
If you can’t bear to part with any resolutions, consider working on them one at a time. Focus on one resolution a month, or wait until you master a habit before taking on another problem area.
3. Write down resolutions
To really make resolutions stick, write them down. That’s according to a study conducted by Gail Matthews at Dominican University of California. Matthews found that people who write down goals are significantly more likely to achieve them compared with people who simply think about what they hope to accomplish.
4. Share goals with friends
Go one step further and send written goals to a friend. The Dominican study noted that making a public commitment to a resolution is related to even greater accomplishment.
Depending on your resolution, consider posting it on Facebook or other social media sites. That means everyone will know if you fail, and the potential for embarrassment may be enough to keep you motivated.
5. Track your progress
Don’t stop at sharing goals with friends. Keep them updated on your progress as well.
Sending weekly progress reports to a friend makes you even more likely to meet a goal, according to the Dominican study. Doing so takes accountability to a new level.
Some smartphone apps track your progress and share it with a friend. For example, the Jawbone UP app lets users of the fitness band connect with friends to share their daily steps, sleep patterns and meals. Lose It! is another weight-loss app with a social accountability component.
Other apps you can use to track your progress include:
6. Stay positive
It’s inevitable that you’ll have thoughts such as, “There is no way I can make it through the day without a cigarette.” When that happens, try to shift your thinking to something more positive. Focusing on the idea that you can’t do something makes it more likely you won’t do it.
One study that compared two groups of water polo athletes highlighted the impact of “positive self-talk.” According to WebMD:
The athletes who fed upbeat thoughts to their brains improved more than those who didn’t. They also had fewer interfering thoughts and were able to focus more on what they were learning.
7. Don’t strive for perfection
Finally, don’t get wrapped up in the ideal of flipping the calendar to January and living the perfect life from that moment on. Doing so leaves you vulnerable when you slip up, have a bad day or simply realize life isn’t easy. Such disappointment can tempt you to give up without a fight.
Instead, expect to imperfectly follow your resolutions. In other words, plan to fail. Perhaps you pledged to exercise five days a week, but only manage a couple of weekly workouts. Don’t despair. Instead, celebrate your limited success. Then, build on it.
Do you plan to make resolutions? Share them in the comments below. Or, post your thoughts on our Facebook page.