Having just dipped our toes into the New Year, it’s that time when some are already losing momentum on their New Year’s Resolutions. A study published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health found that people tend to give up on their resolutions within the first month of the year. It also found that the most common failed resolutions pertain to diet and exercise, but that people are typically vague when it comes to defining those goals. The study found one other interesting fact: people tend to set the same New Year’s resolutions, year after year.
If insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results, the above-referenced research suggests that a lot of the country might be…insane. The reality is that, if we had a limitless amount of free time, making real change would probably come easier. But the chaos and structure of our everyday lives has a way of forcing us into old habits, making it really difficult for new ones to blossom. Another big factor to consider is whether or not you’re ready to change. Research out of the Journal of Clinical Psychology shows that those who are resolved to change rather than simply open to change are the ones who find the most success in New Year’s resolutions. If you struggle to stick to your New Year’s resolutions, here are some tips to finally find success.
The study referenced in the introduction discusses that people tend to be too vague in their goals. “I want to lose weight” or “I want to eat healthier” are vague goals. The steps involved in reaching that end goal are nowhere to be found in those statements. If you fail to be specific, you fail to give yourself detailed instructions. Instead of saying, “I want to eat healthier,” try specific statements like, “I will cut back from three sodas a day to one and I will make half of my plate be vegetables at lunch and dinner.” That’s something you can act on.
Understand The Time Commitment
Too often people underestimate the time it will take to achieve their goals – not just the overall timeline, but the day-to-day time commitments. So if you want to exercise more and that involves going to the gym, it’s important to remember that that’s going to mean driving there, finding parking, and possibly waiting for a machine before the exercise even begins. If that isn’t considered, then you might give up on your goals immediately when you realize you only have 30 minutes a day to commit to this, and the driving and the parking alone take that time. In that case, choosing a different form of exercise to do at home could help you work within your time limitations.
Find A Deeper Purpose
There’s your goal, and there’s what that goal represents. You might have to dig deep to figure out that second part. As an article out of Berkeley covering the psychology book “Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance” explains, you need a deeper purpose to keep up with goals. So in the instance of wanting to lose weight, wanting to simply look good is probably not a deep enough purpose. If the purpose is shallow, the efforts won’t last long. Wanting to live a healthier lifestyle to set an example for your children so that they can live without the health conditions you’ve suffered – that is a deeper purpose.
Learn The Necessary Skills
Sometimes, the issue is as simple as not doing your research. Goals require a little preparation. Maybe your goal is to get a certain type of job. You didn’t realize until you began searching for that job that you’d have to have a certification on your resume to get it, and earning that certification would require you to take some classes. Discovering that roadblock on the day you wake up with a head full of steam to achieve your goals can be devastating. It can make you feel that you started 10 steps behind. Research your goals. Ask others who have achieved them what you’ll need to do so that those roadblocks don’t come as a shock.
Get An Accountability Partner
Research out of Washington State University shows that having someone else ask you if you are going to do something increases the chances you will do it. It’s a healthy form of social pressure. The simple act of asking, “Will you exercise this year,” works on a person’s mind in an interesting way, increasing the chance that they do exercise. It’s a powerful tool, so be sure to use it for good – don’t ask someone if they will participate in a vice or do something dangerous. For your own sake, you can ask someone to ask you if you will be achieving your goal. If it’s to eat more vegetables, maybe a friend can text you once a week and ask, “Will you eat more vegetables this week?”
Don’t Repeat Past Mistakes
The studies in our intro show that people tend to set the same goals over and over again. That’s a mistake, in and of itself. If last year, the way you got specific was by saying, “I’ll quit soda entirely,” and that didn’t work, it probably won’t work this year. So try a different approach. Try “I’ll cut my soda intake in half.” And if last year you found that even keeping soda in the house proved problematic, try not buying it this year – only enjoy it away from the home. Assess what you tried last year, and why it didn’t work. Then, don’t repeat it.
Make Time For Strategizing
There are two things you need to make time for: the actionable items involved in reaching your goals, and the time to decide on what those items are and when they will occur. So if your goal is to exercise more, don’t just hope you find the time. Take 20 minutes once a week to look at your schedule, identify free blocks of time, and flag those for exercise time. If you don’t do this, other obligations will eat up the time that was designated for your goals.