Many people make New Year’s Resolutions. New year, new start. According to one study, only 12 % of resolvers actually keep their resolutions, and about half have abandoned them by the end of January.
The resolution that you set can play a big role in your chances of success.
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 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”
Focus on behaviors not outcomes.
Losing weight often tops 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.
Set small goals.
Really small goals.
Big behavior changes require high motivation that is difficult to sustain. Instead, consider tiny changes to make the new habit as easy as possible. Do something small and easy every day. You’re more likely to stick with a habit if you do a small version of it every day rather than big, deep versions of it one time each week.
Set yourself up for success.
Several strategies work well to maintain new habits.
- Use friction to help yourself. Add friction to behaviors you want to avoid and remove friction from behaviors you want to maintain. Sleep in your workout clothes to make it easier to wake up and move. Choose a mini-habit that requires minimal equipment.
- Include motivation. Create a reward system that works for you, and use it every step of the way. Add in social by doing your new behavior with a friend, or wait to announce your goal to your friends after you’ve been successful at working on it for a few weeks.
- Stack your habits. Look for patterns in your day and connect new habits with existing ones.
- Anticipate challenges. What might get in your way? How can you prepare to persist in those moments?
- Fail forward. If you miss a day of your new habit or revert back to an old way of being, that’s no reason to call it quits on your goal for good. Give yourself a break, consider what hurdles got in your way, consider adapting your strategy or goal, and go after it again.
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