It’s no accident that gyms hum with extra activity in January, and magazines are crowded with headlines about how to lose holiday pounds. But by the end of the month, many of us who have acted on our New Year’s resolutions are back to our old habits. In fact, according to Psychology Today, over 50% of new year’s resolutions fail. To help us get our new year started the right way, I have 9 tips to maintain your new year’s resolutions and achieve a healthier you.
Remember that if you’re planning significant behavior changes for better health, such as quitting smoking or improving your diet, you’re not in this alone. Talk to your doctor about the kinds of support that can help you to effectively change your behavior and achieve your health goals. You can do this!
Don’t Make Vague Resolutions
Specify what you want to achieve. Instead of saying, “I want to lose weight”, try “I want to lose 20 pounds in six months.” Make it a point to write your goals down and refer back to them when possible. This always helps me keep my resolve especially when times get tough.
Develop a Strategy
Before setting goals, develop a strategy. Look at obstacles that hinder you, and how they can be overcome. If you want to exercise four days a week, but child care is a barrier, figure out who will watch the kids. According to the American Psychological Association, by making resolutions realistic and incorporating them into everyday life, there’s a greater chance you’ll reach your desired goals.
Set Achievable Goals
Don’t set yourself up for failure! Making big and abrupt changes is extremely difficult. Maybe quitting smoking cold turkey is too big of a step. The American Psychological Association recommends starting small and changing one behavior at a time. For example, if you want to lose ten pounds, make a change to use the stairs instead of the elevator at work. Then switch to water at lunch instead of soda. The little changes will add up and help you accomplish your bigger goal.
Share Your Goals
Don’t keep your new year’s resolutions a secret! Tell your family and friends about your goals. Sharing your goals will help you stay more accountable. The best-case scenario is to find a buddy who shares your New Year’s resolution in order to motivate each other.
Establish a Reward
If you’ve been diligent, occasionally indulge in a small treat to incentivize yourself to keep going. This could mean going to the movies or having ice cream for dessert. Sometimes a little treat can go a long way towards keeping your goal(s) consistent.
Track Your Progress
Keep track of each small success to keep you motivated. If you’re planning on losing weight, consider keeping a food journal. I’ve written about many excellent electronic apps that can help you keep track of your exercise and food intake that you can also utilize for free. You can find the article here.
Readjust When Necessary
If you get sidetracked or need to change your goals, cross out the old one and put in the new one. Don’t get discouraged — simply readjust and move on.
Make it Fun
If you want to exercise more, plan an activity that you enjoy. If you want to stick to your diet, find healthy alternatives that you enjoy eating. In fact, for a helpful dietary resource, I encourage you to go to Eat This, Not That.
Don’t Give Up!
If you have totally run out of steam by mid-February, don’t despair. Start over again! Identify what is NOT working for you and then recommit yourself. You can do this!
Were these tips helpful for you? Is there a tip that worked for you that I forgot to include? I’d love to hear your thoughts at firstname.lastname@example.org. And please subscribe below to my newsletter to receive more helpful tips straight to your inbox. Happy New Year!