Make Your New Year’s Resolution Stick
Published: January 9, 2018
New Year’s Eve comes with all the hope and promise of a new year. It’s a time to reflect on the past and optimistically make plans for the future. While most Americans make resolutions every year, 80% of resolutions will be forgotten or left behind by February. A quarter of all resolutions are health-related, whether it’s being more active, getting more sleep, or being less stressed. We hope these tips help set you up for success for all your 2018 goals!
Make a Plan.
Having vague resolutions won’t lead to success. Make a plan for success by mapping out what your goal is and what steps you can take to get there. If you want to get more sleep, your plan might include creating a bedtime routine, staying off electronics before bed, going to sleep and getting up at the same time every day, limiting caffeine, removing the tv from bedroom or limited tv/screen time 1 hour before bedtime, or stop napping.
Simply ‘being healthier’ may sound like a great goal, but it can quickly feel overwhelming. Start with one new goal at a time on your path to a healthier life and focus on turning those goals into new habits. Instead of ‘be more active,’ try ‘I will take a 20-minute walk after dinner four days a week.’ By focusing on one thing at a time and being specific, your new behavior will turn into habits and stick longer than wearing yourself out trying to start a new exercise routine, drinking more water, and getting eight hours of sleep all at the same time.
Once you feel comfortable and confident in your new habit you can start focusing on another new goal. While the time it takes to create a habit varies on the activity, between three and eight weeks is a good timeline to remember. The harder the activity, the longer it will take to become a habit; it can take anywhere from 21 days to 6 months. For example, drinking a glass of water before your morning coffee will take less time to become habit than going to the gym every other day.
Have Backup Plans.
Before you tackle your plan to turn your goal into a habit, take the time to create some contingency plans. Think through what could happen to cause you not to meet your goal and how you can work around them. If you wake up late and don’t have time for coffee or water before you leave for work, have a water bottle in your fridge you can drink on your commute. Did a busy day lead to a late dinner and you just want to go to bed? Instead of a walk outside, climb your stairs a few times before bed. Knowing what you’ll do if life gets in the way of your new healthy habits will make them more likely to stick.
When you’re first starting to work towards a resolution it can be all you think about. The longer you work towards building healthy habits, the easier they’ll become and the less you’ll think about them. Ensure you don’t abandon your goals by setting aside 20 minutes at the beginning of each month to think about the goals you set and where you are in achieving them. If you’re right on track, congratulations! You are one in a million! If you aren’t where you want to be, or you’ve stopped working toward that goal altogether, first reevaluate if that goal is still important to you. Figure out where you got sidelined and adjust your plan or make a new backup plan. New Year’s resolutions are popular, but you can start changing your life any day of the year.