New year, new me?! It’s a phrase that we’re all guilty of saying regardless of whether we are being serious or not. So many of us take the New Year as a fresh start and bombard ourselves with a number of resolutions that we promise will be achieved this year. However, it’s no secret that resolutions are hard to stick to. In one psychological study, it was discovered that only around 12% of people successfully achieve their New Year’s resolutions.
Yet, this should not make you feel disheartened as another study found that those that set goals for the upcoming year are 10 times more likely to actually stick to them than those who don’t. So, if you are ready to have another go at setting yourself some resolutions, go for it! But to make sure that you get a real chance of changing your behaviour, why not consider these tips which will make it more likely that you will stick to your resolutions?
Limit your focus
There is a real risk of biting off more than you can chew with New Year’s resolutions. Coming up with a long list of changes you want to implement is often counterproductive as taking too much on becomes daunting. If you think about how ‘bad’ habits have developed over years of repetitive behavioural patterns, breaking them will not happen overnight.
To make your chances of sticking to your resolutions higher, rather than giving yourself the possibility of your attention getting diverted, focus your energy on one or two goals. What’s more, by giving yourself greater ease to achieve your ambitions, will boost your enthusiasm when it comes to sticking to your new routines and even tackling others.
A great way to narrow down your resolutions is to think about which ones have real motivational reasoning behind them. Consider why they matter to you – the balance of the costs of giving up your habits with the benefits of taking on that new lifestyle choice. This will give your goals great grounding, especially for those days where you just feel like giving up.
Be specific and create a detailed plan
Every year, many of us come up with fairly vague resolutions such as to ‘save money’, ‘eat healthier’, ‘be more productive’ and to ‘get fitter’. The large scope that comes with ambiguity means that often, we lose sight of what we really want to achieve; making it easier to stray from the path to succeeding. Instead of setting broad aims, try to create some more specific and – if possible and reasonable – measurable resolutions.
For instance, you may pledge to put aside £40 a month towards your savings. Or if you have committed to being healthier, try by first substituting your less healthy snacks with a piece of fruit. These incremental changes may seem insignificant, but it’s the small changes which count the most. They’ll make it easier to stick to your overall resolution. After all, you cannot expect to finish a marathon without training first.
Another benefit to giving yourself specific goals is that you can create a detailed plan on how you will achieve your resolution (not only for the first couple of weeks but) to carry you until the end of the year. After deciding on a ‘figure’ to work towards, it’s a great idea to consider the various methods you will use to get there and at what points in the year you will implement these. By having a detailed and from the offset a more manageable looking plan, you will be able to envision your road to success, hit your targets and, therefore, stick to your resolutions.
Avoid setting a previously unachieved goal again
A common mistake too many of us make when committing to resolutions, is to set a goal which we previously did not meet in the hopes that this year will somehow be different. Now, admittedly there is no harm in trying to achieve a resolution that you did not before. However, it is best to avoid coming up with the exact same one. Before setting a similar target, think about why you didn’t quite get there last time and how you can make changes to evade the same thing from happening this year.
Make it as easy as possible for yourself
On those days where you just don’t have the willpower to keep the momentum going, you will thank yourself if you make things as easy as possible for yourself. In the psychological study mentioned previously, it was discovered that if you reduce the time it takes for you to start a task by 20 seconds, you are more likely to stick with it every day. So, if you are trying to get fitter, why not try keeping your gym wear or equipment somewhere where you can grab and go as opposed to having it tucked away and hidden? Alternatively, if are planning on being healthier, store your healthier snack options next to the sofa where it is at arm’s reach.
Try buddying up with someone
If you find that you are someone who needs to be held accountable for achieving their goals, then why not try making a joint resolution with one of your friends or family? Having a great support system is ideal for keeping you motivated by making working towards your goals more fun. Your buddy will also be in the exact same position as you, making those days where cannot be bothered a little easier as they will be there to listen to and reassure you; as you for them.
Track your progress and don’t be afraid to re-evaluate
Once you get going with tackling the various obstacles that are thrown at you when attempting to stick to your New Year’s resolutions, it’s a good idea to keep track of your progress however small. Within the first couple of months, many people can lose a bit of steam. However, by having a record of your progress, you can look back on your efforts so far, and you never know, you may surprise yourself on how far you have come. Being able to have that overall perspective of your successes which you can often lose track of day-to-day will be sure to give you back your initial spark of motivation.
If you do find that having evaluated your progress, you have not come as far as you would have initially liked, do not threat. One thing to highlight here is that you have not failed! There is no shame in rethinking and editing your strategy. In fact, it is unlikely that any of us will achieve our resolutions without experiencing any ups and downs. Keeping track of your efforts mean that you can easily pinpoint where you think you can develop more to meet your end goal.
The key to success is balance. If you are too strict on yourself and overwork, the scales will tip towards you feeling hopeless and eventually giving up. So, be sure to celebrate any successes and continue to reward yourself. For instance, if your resolution is to get healthier, there is little point in completely restricting yourself of unhealthy treats. Don’t feel guilty for giving yourself a couple pieces of chocolate a day – at the end of the day, it’s all about moderation. What’s more, having this balance will enable you to stick to your New Year’s resolutions.
Be kind to yourself
One of the most important tips to stress when trying to stick to your New Year’s resolutions is to be kind to yourself. When it comes to changing your engrained behaviours and ‘bad’ habits, you will go on a journey and it will take some time. Yes, you may face some setbacks. But in the grand scheme of things, a couple setbacks will not impact your overall work towards essentially life changing actions. Just take it day by day and be patient with yourself – you’ve got this!
Struggling with getting back to uni this new year? Read our top tips here about getting ready for the Spring term.