Keeping Your New Year’s Resolution: 8 Tips and Tricks to Stay on Track
As the end of the year quickly approaches, you may be thinking about setting a New Year’s resolution. If you’ve had some trouble keeping your resolutions in the past, you’re not alone. Here are some tips and tricks to help you increase your chances of sticking to your goal this year.
1. Take Baby Steps
When it comes to keeping your New Year’s resolution, it’s important to aim for attainable and set small, specific goals. If you want to lose weight, for example, setting out to lose 10% of your body weight in six months is more realistic and attainable than a grand scheme such as “I want to get back to my high school weight by spring.”
Start by sitting down and creating a list of all that you want to achieve next year.
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2. Make It Measurable
After you’ve decided on a specific attainable goal, you should drill down to make it more memorable. For example, if you weigh 150 pounds and you set a goal with your doctor to lose 10% of your body weight in six months (15 pounds), you’ll need to lose just 2.5 pounds per month to reach that goal.
Then work with your doctor to set up a specific plan to achieve this goal. With the example above, you may want to determine an exercise regime and diet plan. Oftentimes, keeping your New Year’s resolution means that you must be as precise as possible during the planning phase. You could even use an app or journal to keep a diet and exercise log as you go.
While you’re in the planning stages, you should weed out any behavior changes that you’d like to make that don’t sync with your values or your lifestyle. Before vowing to jog every morning before work, for example, ask yourself why you’ve never done it before. Are you not a morning person? Does it conflict with your work schedule? Your resolutions should be a good fit for your lifestyle, schedule, and personality. Don’t expect yourself to do the impossible.
4. Check the Timing
If you’re going through a major life change, such as moving, changing jobs, or having a baby, don’t implement your New Year’s resolution until the dust settles. Habit change is hard work. If you can’t give your resolutions the attention they deserve until your birthday, Valentine’s Day, or Memorial Day, so be it.
Timing is key when it comes to setting and reaching new goals.
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5. Reward Yourself Along the Way
When you decide to go for it, be sure to reward yourself often to reinforce your new behavior. After a week of going to strength training class every other day, for example, treat yourself to a manicure or a new pair of yoga pants. Rewards can be a great motivation factor.
6. Change Your Environment
Control your environment so that you’re not tempted by old behaviors. If weight loss is your goal, for example, try to avoid high-calorie restaurants and plan to eat at home more often. After all, when you make a meal yourself, you can control portion sizes and ingredients.
7. Forgive Yourself
If and when you revert to old, not-so-healthy behaviors, don’t fall prey to all-or-nothing thinking, as in, “I overate at the party so I might as well eat waffles for breakfast.” This type of mindset can be demoralizing. Instead, brush yourself off, so to speak, and get right back to your new routine. Recognizing that nobody’s perfect can help you stay on track.
8. Keep Up the Good Work
Once you’ve reached your behavior change goals, continue what you’ve been doing that got you there, including rewarding your new behavior, staying out of unhealthy environments, and snapping back after a slip. The maintenance phase can be just as much work as the initial behavior change part. But it gets easier as your resolutions take root. You’ll know you’re on your way when your old habits begin to feel as strange to you as your new healthier habits once did.
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