Traditionally, New Year’s Day is a time to make resolutions. In fact, 45% of Americans make New Year’s resolutions and the most common resolutions is losing weight. If you are like most people, you will discover that making resolutions is easy. The challenge is sustaining them.
According to University of Scranton psychologist John Norcross, author of Changing for Good, studies show that people who resolve to change behaviors do much better than non-resolvers who have the same habits that need to be changed. Statistics he has gathered reveal that, by the end of January, some 64% of resolvers are still sticking to their resolutions. At six months, that number drops to 44%.
For this reason, many commentators have expressed the opinion that New Year’s resolutions are a waste of time. But in fact, experts say, the very act of making resolutions improves your odds of success. The key, they say, to keeping your resolutions is planning. You need a detailed blueprint that addresses how you will reach your goals in a way that leverages your strengths and minimizes your weaknesses. Below are a few tips from the experts to help you stick with your New Year’s vows.
- Have realistic expectations - Once you see you are capable of making changes in your behavior, it inspires confidence. Imagine yourself practicing a particular behavior change two weeks out, two months out, two years out, and if can’t, then re-evaluate your goal to make sure it is doable
- Create detailed mini goals for yourself - Break your resolutions into lots of specific “baby steps.” This will allow you to see incremental progress toward your larger goals and provide greater motivation to keep going.
- Enlist support - Studies show that social support is critical, especially after the first few weeks when your motivation may begin to flag. Seek out someone who will be there for you long-term.
- Control your environment - Remove temptations that may distract you from your goals. Surround yourself with people, places, and things that will help you change your behavior.
- Reward yourself - Reward yourself all along the way for continued motivation and success–e.g. when you achieve a mini-goal.
- Anticipate slips and deal with them constructively - Setbacks are inevitable; it is how you respond to them that matters. Use slip-ups as helpful reminders to remain strong and get back on track, not as excuses to give up.
Whatever your New Year’s resolutions for better health, remember that just by making them you are already ahead of the pack!