Sticking to Your New Year’s Resolutions

The start of a new year brings with it the hopes of a new beginning.  This is the time when many people dream about how their lives can change for the better, “This year, I will…”  Often, our resolutions are created from our regrets, missed opportunities, or a resolution that we did not stick to from the previous year.

How can you be sure this year will be different? According to some statistics, 45% of Americans usually make New Year’s Resolutions yet only 8% are successful in achieving their resolutions. Chances are that at some point you have made a resolution and then not followed through.

We often allow distractions and minor setbacks to discourage us or pull us away from what we want to achieve. Sometimes it’s easy to forget that we are not supposed to be perfect, and that a setback does not have to steer us completely off of our course. By taking responsibility for your focus and efforts while allowing for the occasional “slip up”, making a clearer picture of what you want and creating a road map to navigate your course, you will greatly increase the likelihood of achieving your resolution.

Being Resolute with your Resolution

First, give yourself a break from past unrealized resolutions.  Let the past go.  Just because something hasn’t been done in the past, doesn’t mean it is impossible NOW!  Let’s focus on specific steps to make your 2016 resolutions a reality.   

Step #1:  Be Honest  – Ask yourself, “Why do I want to achieve this?”  Is this something you truly want or is it something you think you need to do in order to secure the approval of other people?  If we create goals for ourselves based on what others think we “should” do, then we are not getting down to what will make us truly happy and what we “want” to do. Your desire for change must be authentic, that is, you need to want it for yourself.

Step #2:  Cope Ahead – Brainstorm potential obstacles, “What might get in the way of me achieving my resolution?”  Create viable options to overcome each hurdle. This could include calling a friend for support, positive self-talk and affirmations, maybe even creating a vision board as a visual reminder of your end goal. Be steadfast in the pursuit of your resolution.

Step #3:  Stay on Track – Create a tracking system that will help you record your efforts and progress.  Your tracking system could be as easy as a check mark on your calendar or you can download one of the many tracking apps for your phone. (Try Kwit to stop smoking, Noom for losing weight, Happify or Pacifica for improving your mood)

Step #4:  Be Kind – Remember that not every day is going to be easy, and that sometimes we all have setbacks. (Maybe you have a family event and just can’t resist that chocolate cake. Perhaps you have a stressful day and lose your temper despite your goal to have more patience). The key is to forgive yourself and move on. Realize that each day is a new beginning, and that one minor setback will not keep you from achieving your end goal if you are determined. Research shows that you are more likely to succeed with changing a behavior if you practice being kind self-talk as opposed to being critical of your own mistakes. Try it and see how much better you feel!