Easy ways to keep your New Year’s resolutions

How many times have you managed to stick to your New Year’s resolutions for the whole year? Can you even remember what resolution you set last January? Whether it’s giving up smoking, cutting down on booze, or becoming a seasoned marathon runner, our motivation is usually waning by February, and by spring, our best, life-changing intentions are a distant memory. Scientists and psychologists have identified a number of reasons for our inability to stick to our New Year’s resolutions, but there are a host of tips and tricks for making our goals more achievable.

1. One and only

It’s so tempting to make resolutions for everything we could conceivably want to achieve in the next year, but it has been suggested that you are more likely to succeed by focussing all of your energy into one behavioural change. If there are several things you want to have achieved by the end of the year, there is no reason why you shouldn’t set other resolutions at later dates once you’ve mastered the first.

2. Be more specific

One of the first major pitfalls of sticking to a resolution is that our initial goals are just too vague. Without a measure of success, simply “losing weight” can be a pretty thankless task. When setting health and wellbeing resolutions, try to ensure they are as specific as possible in terms of what you want to achieve and how you will do so. Recognise that there may be several smaller steps involved in completing your resolution, and don’t try to do all of these at once. For example, you may decide that your resolution is “lose seven pounds by running three times a week, then halving my alcohol intake” – unfortunately “slim down, drink less and run more” just won’t cut it.

3. Put it on paper

Writing down your resolutions helps to make them become much more concrete. If you display your goal somewhere obvious, such as a note on the fridge door, you will encounter it far more frequently. This engagement will encourage you to stick to your resolution and ensure you have no excuse for forgetting it…

4. Look to the future now

Remaining mindful and engaged in the present moment can be fantastic for many areas of your life, but when it comes to maintaining a New Year’s resolution, it actually helps to look to the future. Living in the present moment can encourage you to succumb to temptations which will satisfy you in the short term. By being aware of how your resolution will positively impact on your future, you are less likely to avoid or break your resolution. Research suggests that those who engage with their “future self” are less likely to procrastinate in general. Try sticking a photo next to your resolution up on the wall, perhaps of a mountain or your family or something you have planned in future that inspires you to think ‘I’m going to be able to do that if I keep going’.

5. Strength in numbers

Telling a friend or family member about your resolution could help provide that much needed incentive to stick to it. An outsider can provide support and encouragement, as well as checking in to make sure you stay on track – peer pressure doesn’t have to be a bad thing. Better still, find someone who shares your goal to adopt the same resolution, that way you can support one another or, if you’re the competitive type, try to out-do one another.

Remember, if one approach ‘fails’, don’t give up – try another. Finding what works for you may involve some trial and error, but every renewed effort is a step towards your goal. Good luck!

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Wellbeing Wisdom

  • Writing down your goals and sticking them in a prominent place will regularly remind you to maintain them.
  • Don’t try to take on too many resolutions at once. Start with one and introduce others once you’ve mastered the first.
  • Set a resolution with a similarly minded friend so that you can provide one another with support and encouragement.