It’s a holiday tradition to overindulge all November and December, then promise ourselves everything will be different in January. We make long lists of the things we want to change: new diet, run a marathon, be a different person. But it’s a national trend to ditch these resolutions often before we’ve even started them. The reminders that 88% of resolutions fail don’t help us motivate. Below is a list of science-backed tips to make those resolutions stick.
1. Set Yourself Up For Success
Once you have identified what it is about your habits that you want to change, the first thing you should do is make sure that your environment is set up to accept these changes. Let’s use a classic example of weight loss as a resolution. Throw out all the junk food, sugary snacks, and highly processed foods before the New Year. Organize your pantry so that all the healthy ingredients you need are easy to reach. Purchase Tupperware (glass to avoid toxins from plastics) ahead of time for meal prep. Set up your environment to accommodate you so that you have no roadblocks when the time comes to reach those goals.
2. Don’t Overwhelm Yourself
It’s tempting to make grandiose goals or put forward vague intentions about what you want to change. But let’s face it, it’s harder to make changes when you don’t have all the information at your fingertips to get the ball rolling. Instead, make specific goals and break those goals up into segments. This will give you a lower bar that is more consistent and easier to achieve over time. When it comes to long-term goals, it’s best to break them down into smaller, more manageable bits so that you’re not so overwhelmed and can succeed with more ease.
3. Keep Track
At some point during our habit-forming journeys, we may become less motivated to reach the same goal we were once so excited about. Maybe it’s because we have plateaued or maybe it’s because we become bogged down by the everyday stressors. Whatever it is, it can be mitigated by keeping track of your progress. When you need to, refer to your tracking system to see how far you have come since the first day. If you feel that your progress has halted and want to know why, you will have the data looking back at you. This allows you to make some minor adjustments as needed. Use a journal or an app to keep track.
4. Find a Cheerleader… Or a Friendly Competitor
If you are looking to make some changes to your habits, sometimes it is helpful to talk to someone about it. Find a friend who can keep you on track on the days that you falter. Or go in on a plan with a friend with similar goals as you. You two can have some friendly competition in reaching your collective goals. Either way someone is helping hold you accountable for your goals. You will have a support system present on the days that you have trouble. Because, let’s face it, we all struggle sometimes when it comes to making changes.
5. Be Nice to Yourself
Even if you hit the ground running on New Year’s Day, your quest will get noticeably harder as the months wear on. Behaviors take time to put into habitual practice – don’t forget that. Some days will be more difficult than others and that is perfectly okay. Depending on the stressors and our moods, achieving your goals will range from being moderately easy to attain to Herculean in difficulty. Sometimes you will falter, but don’t beat yourself up about it. Instead nurture a positive voice, and realize that you are only human. Being nicer to yourself will give yourself room to make mistakes – after all, that is how we grow.
5. Group the Resolution with Fun
If you’re looking to incorporate exercise into your routine, group the exercise with something you love doing. Allow yourself to read your book or watch your favorite show only when you’re on the elliptical. Listen to your favorite podcast only when you’re running. You’ll be so motivated to finish your story that you may find yourself working out more often and longer.
Make Feeling Better a Resolution
Is feeling better and getting your health back on track one of your resolutions? We can help you with that. Schedule a Free Consultation with Dr. Finnegan.