You've got your New Year's resolutions planned. This year you are going to exercise more, join a gym, eat healthier, lose weight, drink less, quit smoking, and clean out the basement. And you're going to start all of this at the stroke of midnight on January 1st, right? Right. How'd that work out for you last year?
The problem is that we try to take on too much, change too much in too short a period of time. Here are some useful tips to help you stick to your New Year's resolutions and really follow through this year!
01. Keep it simple. Don't pick too many resolutions. If you try to fix all of your bad habits at one time, you are doomed to fail. Besides, one goal, such as losing weight, will require changes to both diet and exercise; so your are already multitasking to succeed with one resolution. Don't make things too complicated by adding lots of other resolutions.
02. Don't bite off more than you can chew. Especially if healthier eating habits are part of your New Year's resolutions! Break your goals down into smaller, more manageable bites and take it a little bit at a time.
03. Exercise your will power. A study performed at UAlbany had smokers who were trying to quit take on another task that also required self control. The study found that those who had been required to exert an extra amount of self control were more than twice as likely to quit smoking than those who had not. Will power takes practice, and practice makes perfect!
04. Drink some fruit juice. The brain relies almost exclusively on glucose for energy, so a little orange juice or lemonade can replenish your will power.
05. Make your goal attainable. If you make a goal that is impossible or just entirely too strict, you will have a really hard time achieving success. Give yourself some wiggle room so you are less tempted to cheat. Instead of giving up all sweets or junk food, vow to eat healthier or to limit sweets. If Mom still has a cookie jar at her house, maybe allow yourself to have a cookie only when you are at Mom's house as long as you stick to your new diet everywhere else.
06. Be mindful of your accomplishments. When you are not sticking to your resolution and you feel defeated, remind yourself of all that you have accomplished so far that required self control, even if it was as simple as that time you refrained from telling your coworker how you really felt. It will help you realize you can overcome and accomplish anything.
07. Write your goals down. Research shows you are more likely to achieve your goals if you write them out as opposed to just keeping them in your head. Put pen to paper and make those resolutions official!
08. Talk about it. You are also more likely to achieve your goals if you let others around you know what your goals are. Letting others know about your resolutions will help them to hold you accountable.
09. Picture it. Our mind is very responsive to visual cues. Keep a picture that reminds you of your goal in a strategic location, such as keeping a picture of yourself on the refrigerator back when you used to still be able to fit into those skinny jeans.
10. Write a list of pros and cons. Just as writing out our goals makes them more likely to get accomplished, writing out the reasons we made that goal in the first place will make the motivation that much more vivid. Likewise, a list of cons will make the adversity you will face trying to achieve your goals that much more real, better preparing you to face them head on whenever they arise.
11. Keep track of your progress. Ok, so you haven't lost all ten pounds yet, but you've lost a couple! Don't lose hope, you'll get there! Look how far you've come already!
12. Reward yourself. If your goal is to lose weight and give up sweets, don't reward yourself by eating an entire cake. Instead, reward yourself with something you love that won't contradict your resolution.
13. Don't be too hard on yourself. Don't get too down on yourself if you fall off the rails. Don't focus on the negative or the past. Look at your list of pro's and con's, recount your successes and get back on track!
14. Take it one day at a time. Don't take too big a bite all at once. Focus on your goals for today, today, and tomorrow's goals tomorrow. And if at first you don't succeed, try, try again.
15. Stick with it. It will take up to three weeks for any new activity to become a habit, and six months to become a part of your personality. It will take work to change the behavior, but before you know it your resolution will come naturally. It won't always feel so grueling to achieve your goal.
16. Wait until Monday. I know, it's your New Year's resolution and we are already telling you to procrastinate. Research shows that folks who start a new habit, such as quitting smoking, are more successful at sticking with that habit if they start on a Monday as opposed to if they start on any other day of the week. And let's be honest, New Year's Day falls on a Friday this year. You aren't starting your resolution on a Friday. So have a Happy New Year, enjoy your weekend, and start on your resolutions first thing Monday morning!