8 Ways to Keep Your New Year’s Resolutions All Year Long

Inspired by the New Year to turn over a new leaf? You’re not alone! New Year’s resolutions abound in our society; the wave of freshness that comes with the New Year always inspires us to strive for those long-wished for changes, and become better, happier, healthier, wealthier, skinnier, or – you fill in the blank.

Alas, by the third week in January, statistically speaking, 75% of us will have abandoned our new goals. So this year, how can you avoid becoming – well, just another statistic? 

 “Setting small, attainable goals throughout the year, instead of a singular, overwhelming goal on January 1 can help you reach whatever it is you strive for,” recommends psychologist Lynn Bufka, PhD on the APA website. “Remember, it is not the extent of the change that matters, but rather the act of recognizing that lifestyle change is important and working toward it, one step at a time.” 

And keep in mind that it takes at least three weeks of continued practice for a new habit to form. Once you have gotten through that first week, you will find those changes a lot easier to maintain. Soon enough, three weeks will have passed, and the new habit will be formed. 

Here are some simple guidelines from the American Psychological Association for setting resolutions you can keep:

  • Set Realistic goals. Can we expect to run a marathon if we haven’t yet run around one lap? So plan to run/walk one lap two times this week.

  • Be Specific. Instead of vowing to do more yoga, choose specific classes you’ll take; decide how often you’ll go, pick the exact class, day, time, and location. The more details you can settle right now, the more likely you are to follow through. The less ambiguity, the less excuses available to your inner slacker.  Instead of a general idea like “I want to be happier,” choose a specific actionable step that will move you towards that goal, such as, “I will get more sleep by being in bed by 10 pm during the week.”

  • Set Short-Term Goals. If up until now you have been working out two times a week, perhaps next week’s goal is to work out three times a week. It’s easier to be willing to do something hard for a short time. Give up sugar for one week, not for the rest of your life. Next week, riding on your success and positive momentum, you can choose to give it up again.

  • Change One Behavior at a Time. “I’m going to lose 50 lbs, work out for an hour every day, go to bed by 10 pm, stop drinking coffee, be kind to everyone I meet, save my money, keep track of my expenses…” Sound familiar? A complete overhaul is unrealistic. Choose just one behavior to focus on at a time. Success in that one area will inevitably boost confidence and happiness and ultimately bring success in other areas.

  • Use Companionship. Enlist a friend that has the same goal and go for it together. Or, if you can’t find someone with the same goal, simply find a supportive pal who can agree to help by holding you accountable. Check in with your friend a set number of days a week (that you and the friend should decide on together up front) to report on the results and make sure you’re following through. Another option: join a group like Weight Watchers or a class that will help hold you accountable so that you continue to work towards your goal. Having some companionship can help you look forward to something to which you may have resistance, and can provide twice the enthusiasm and some exterior discipline.

  • If you make a mistake, don’t give up. Just get right back on track. Remember, there’s no need to be perfect. Don’t beat yourself up over it. You’re human! Be kind, patient, and forgiving to yourself, and don’t expect to be able to change overnight. Success will come to you even with errors along the way.

  • Reward Yourself For Victories Along the Way. Mark your victories by treating yourself for meeting goals, even small ones. If your goal involved fitness, then celebrate your first week’s new level of beauty by buying yourself a new workout top or a pair of earrings. Feeling deprived can defeat your resolution. After all, keeping your resolution gets you what you want. So cultivate that feeling of delight by giving to yourself: a bubble bath, tea time with a friend, an art day, something pretty to wear.

  • Enjoy the Path. How many times have we been told to slow down and smell the flowers? The goal is now. Setting reasonable goals prevents strain and the stress of failure, and opens us up to the possibility of enjoying ourselves while we explore a new path.

Making one realistic New Year’s resolution can change the tenor of the whole new year. Success breeds more success, so take one small step and be glad of it!

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