UAB Medicine News
10 Secrets of People Who Keep Their New Year’s Resolutions
In addition to shopping for gifts and making holiday party plans, the end of the year is also a time when many of us begin thinking about New Year’s resolutions. If you fell short of accomplishing your resolutions last year, this might be a bit of a sore spot. Less than 8% of people actually stick to their resolutions each year, according to some estimates, yet millions of Americans continue to set goals with high hopes of a better year ahead.
Whether you want to lose weight, get organized, or achieve anything else in 2019,it’s all about sticking to your goals. Here are 10 common traits, characteristics, and habits of people who keep their resolutions for self-improvement.
1. Start with specific micro-goals: Goal-setting and resolutions are typically more of a marathon than a sprint. It’s easy to get overwhelmed and give up when your resolution is something big, such as losing 50 pounds, finding your dream job, or traveling around the world. People who actually achieve their resolutions tend to set much smaller micro goals that are ultra-specific and realistic. If your resolution is to eat healthier, one micro-goal might be to start blending fruit and vegetable smoothies for breakfast each day. If your goal is to take up a new hobby, you might resolve to sign up for a class at a local art studio before the end of January.
2. Set resolutions for the right reasons: It’s important to make resolutions that have a deep importance to you rather than things that are expected of you or what someone else wants. Before the end of the year, put some serious thought into what improvements or changes truly matter to you and what you want out of life in 2019. These are the ideas that should guide your resolution-setting behavior, because they are more likely to stick with you and always be in the back of your mind.
3. Document your progress: It’s hard to stay focused on goals if you don’t see yourself making progress. Writing down your successes and challenges on a regular basis helps you stay focused on keeping your resolutions. Jotting down thoughts in a journal or keeping a simple spreadsheet of milestones allows you to assess where you are in your journey and adjust your efforts accordingly.
4. Practice patience and forgiveness: Even with the best of intentions and motivations, it is all too common to lose sight of resolutions when life gets hectic and your attention is needed elsewhere. It takes time to make lasting change, but sometimes all you need is an unexpected breakthrough to make your resolution a reality. Through the ups and downs, practice patience and forgiveness with yourself, acknowledging that no one is perfect and that you are on the right path.
5. Schedule in time to achieve goals: Time is elusive and often slips away from us with busy schedules and competing interests. Chances are that you schedule in time for work tasks and family obligations, so make this the year that you schedule in time for your resolutions, too. This could mean blocking off an hour each day to exercise, occasionally declining social invitations to focus on self-care, or dedicating a Saturday morning each week to searching for a job.
6. Embrace the buddy system: One of the biggest mistakes people make when setting New Year’s resolutions is trying to achieve them alone. Having a buddy alongside you who has similar goals or simply wants to support you can make a huge difference in whether you achieve your resolutions in 2019. If possible, find someone you trust who is reliable and can commit to joining you for healthy meals, exercise, or new hobbies or activities.
7. Consider your budget: You could be the most motivated individual in the world and still not be able to stick to your resolution if finances get in the way. As you are thinking about which resolutions to focus on in 2019, consider your budget and current financial obligations. If money is a concern, consider adjusting your resolution of traveling the world to exploring nearby towns you’ve never visited, or choose new hobbies to pursue that are within your means.
8. Slow down and meditate: It’s easy to get caught up in the hustle and excitement of a new year and lose sight of why you set resolutions in the first place. People who stick to their resolutions tend to be good at slowing down the pace of life, which allows for greater mental clarity. Meditation is a great tool for slowing down the mind and bringing your focus to just one thing, such as the resolution you’re striving to achieve. Take a few deep breaths and make a point to clear your mind and think about your resolution for at least a few minutes each day.
9. Reward yourself for achievements: Resolutions shouldn’t be all about hard work and no fun. That’s why it’s important to reward yourself for achievements you make, no matter how big or how small. If you’ve stuck to your resolution of saving $1,000 a month for the past three months, treat yourself by buying something small that you’ve been wanting for a long time. Occasional rewards provide tangible proof that your resolution plan is working well and that you are improving yourself little by little.
10. Ask others to keep you accountable: People who stick to their resolutions ask others to keep them accountable so that it’s more difficult to fall back into bad habits. Tell as many people as you feel comfortable with what your resolutions are, and encourage them to check in with you periodically for updates on your progress. Simply knowing that a loved one might ask you about your goal and that you’ll feel obligated to provide an honest answer may be enough help you stick to the new goals you’ve set for yourself.
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