Making New Year's Resolutions Stick

  • December 26, 2011
  • Jenna Maxwell
Making New Year's Resolutions Stick

Ok. Now that Christmas is over, we shift the focus to the next big holiday, which is New Year’s.  New Year’s parties are on many people’s holiday to-do lists and it’s an annual favorite celebration amongst the masses.  A traditional part of New Year’s celebrating has been setting New Year goals or resolutions.  Many of us participate in this annual resolution making, and make big plans to become a whole new person as soon as that ball drops on New Year’s Eve.  A recent survey has shown, however, that most resolutions that are created for New Year’s are given up and completely abandoned within six months.  Here’s some great tips for you as you make your New Year’s resolutions to help you create goals that you can not only live with but are much more likely to stick!

Going Way Too Big:  Even though it may fall into the category of “it seemed like a good idea at the time,” setting goals that are too gigantic or unrealistic may set you up for nearly immediate failure.  There is nothing wrong with having lofty aspirations, however, your goals may be much more attainable if you break them down into smaller, more palatable changes that are more readily adjusted to. 

Relying Too Much on Sheer Willpower:  If you rely on willpower alone to achieve your goals you may soon be in trouble.  It’s human nature to fall off the wagon as soon as a stressful situation arises or get overwhelmed by the challenges of daily living.  Willpower isn’t enough to make real changes; you have to have behavioral changes to back it up.  Making your lifestyle changes enjoyable is a much better alternative because then you don’t feel deprived and all too ready to fall back into your old habits when inevitable challenging days arise.

Think Positively:  It takes a lot of mental energy to retrain your brain into making real change.  Watch yourself and eliminate negative self-talk.  Tell yourself that you know you can succeed at your goal--even if it is only in the smallest increments, perhaps just a day at a time.  Visualize frequently how great you will feel and the positive effects that attaining your goal will have on your life.  If you do find yourself in a funk and are thinking negatively, train your brain to focus on the negative impact that not attaining your set goal will have in your life.  Sometimes thinking about these ramifications can be positively motivating as well.

Plan Ahead:  No matter what your resolutions are, planning ahead will help you to not come up with an array of excuses as to why you aren’t starting now to move forward.  If your goal is to work out regularly in a gym, make sure you have a membership at a gym that is convenient.  If you are trying to eat more healthfully, throw out your junk food and fill your refrigerator with healthful options.  Make sure whatever obstacles you foresee that may delay you on your journey are removed.

Leave Past Failures Behind:  No matter what your track record is, no matter how many times your resolutions haven’t worked, today is a new day and you have to learn to let go of the past and not let it influence the here and now.  A good strategy to embrace is to accept before you begin that you will fail now and then and that is part of the journey.  Knowing that you will have setbacks and having the ability to pull yourself back up and continue to move forward is huge.

Go Public and Get a Partner:  Letting your friends and loved ones know what your goals are makes you more accountable.  Let people know what your intentions are and this will give you one more incentive to keep persisting when things get hard.  Having a friend or loved one that is in your corner is also a good way to buoy yourself up when you are having a weak moment or a bad day.  Another good idea is to find a friend with similar goals as yourself and work together to attain them.  Being able to talk about the challenges you may face on a day-to-day basis is great when you are working as a team, plus a partnership approach injects a level of fun and camaraderie into the effort as well.

Reward Yourself Along the Way:  At various milestones during your journey, have incentives or rewards that motivate you.  Buy yourself a new outfit for so much weight loss or consistent days spent working out in a gym.  Giving yourself a pat on the back for sticking with your goals is a huge help in attaining them and a well-deserved reward for your effort.

Saying goodbye to the old year and welcoming the new one brings with it many opportunities for growth and improvement.  With a bit of planning and foresight you can use your New Year’s resolutions to make your life much better and brighter in 2012!