Secrets to Sticking to Your Resolution!

We’re 3 weeks into the new year….and where are you with that resolution you made in a fit of excitement at 11:58pm on December 31st?  Only 12 % of resolvers actually keep their resolutions, and about half have already abandoned them by the end of January.

To be honest, enthusiasm for my new exercise regimen flagged sometime last week, and I have all but abandoned my resolve. Alas! It’s not too late to reclaim that resolution. Here are some surprising tips for sticking to it:

1.       Do something you WANT to do. People are motivated by what they want. Imagine: it’s Tuesday night and your friend has an extra ticket to the basketball game. You SHOULD study for that Chem test tomorrow morning, but you WANT to go to the game…what are you gonna choose?

When it comes to resolutions, don’t should on yourself! Make it something you WANT to do. Sometimes, this just involves reframing or refining your resolution to reflect your wants:

“I should exercise more” vs. “I want to join the intramural soccer team this semester”

“I should save more money” vs. “I want to be more financially independent”

2.       Focus on behaviors not outcomes. Last year, losing weight topped the list of most common resolutions. But a goal like this sets you up for failure, because losing weight is an outcome not a behavior. You have much more control over your behavior (e.g., what you eat and how much you exercise) than you do over outcomes like weight loss, so resolve to do (or not do) something you have control over.

l-Baby-steps 3.       Set small goals. Really small goals. And then reward your progress. Every. Single. Step. Of. The. Way. Goals around exercise and healthy eating top the list of most common resolutions, but they can be especially hard. My goal was to do 20-minute workout videos, four times a week—easy-peasy! Well, apparently not, because it’s been a week since I turned on a workout video, and I can feel my muscles softening as I type this. Setting much smaller goals could help me ease into this new routine, like starting with one or two days a week and then rewarding myself with a cute new pair of earrings. It’s much easier to meet smaller goals, which helps build self-confidence, which keeps you motivated!

4.       Dust yourself off and get back on that horse! Ok, so I missed a week of workouts. So what? That’s no reason to throw in the towel. Tomorrow’s another day, and you can choose to pick up that resolution anytime. Everyone has an off day/week/month/….six months… Give yourself a break. And get back on that horse!

5.       Set a goal and DON’T TELL ANYONE. Now, I realize this contradicts what you’ve probably heard: you should announce your goals from the hilltops far and wide! You should tell people so that you can be held accountable, right? So that you can elicit social support, right? First of all, stop shoulding on yourself (SEE tip #1). Then, watch this awesome 3 minute TED Talk….

TED Talk: Keep Your Goals to Yourself

Tell us about YOUR resolution in the comments below!

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