5 tips for sticking to your New Year’s resolutions
Committing to run in next fall’s marathon might sound like a cool idea on December 31 after you’ve sipped some champagne, but New Year’s resolution statistics prove that many ideas that look entirely promising on New Year’s Eve often fall to the wayside several weeks later.
“When people make New Year’s resolutions, they’ve got to understand that a resolution is not just about January 1 — it’s about 365 days a year,” says Paul Fornell, a mental health therapist and instructor in the master's in counseling program at the University of Phoenix New Mexico Campus.
So how do you make your new commitments stick? Here are five tips that can help:
Choose the right resolutions.
One of the biggest issues with resolutions, according to Fornell, is that they often don’t originate with you, but from outside pressures.
“If you decide to do something, it’s got to be because you want to do it, and not because someone else wants to see that result for you,” he says. “Everyone who works in mental health recognizes that real change only comes when the pressure comes from the internal and not from the external.”
Plan to succeed.
Once you decide on a resolution, you’ve got to start making a plan for how you’re going to accomplish it. “If you decide to eat healthy, but you don’t know what a healthy diet is, you aren’t going to succeed,” Fornell says.
Go buy a book, he suggests, or take a class before the new year begins, to research whatever you’re undertaking and make sure you know what the steps or criteria look like in advance.
“By spelling out exactly what you are going to do ahead of time, come January 1, it’s going to be easier to get on board,” he explains.
Get support from loved ones.
One of the best factors for making change is finding outside encouragement. “Talk to your family, spouse or co-workers and ask them to support your commitment,” Fornell advises.
In addition to help from friends and family, seek online support from websites. For example, if your goal is to drop a few pounds, you might consider using Weight Watchers® Online, where you can share your progress.
Choose a personal affirmation.
“I’m a big advocate for bumper sticker sayings,” Fornell says. “It’s important to find a personal motto or expression that grabs you, and then use it frequently.
“One of my personal favorites is, ‘What you really want to do, you do. The rest is just talk,’” he says. Choose a saying that reinforces your goal or makes you feel motivated to work toward it. Then hang your saying on your wall or make it your screensaver, and schedule time every day to affirm it.
Don't let one mistake derail you.
Whenever you slip up, it’s important to admit you’re human, and turn around and get back into the new routine again, Fornell says. For example, if you had planned to work out a few times a week, and your goal slipped your mind, set a reminder on your cellphone or consider using exercise tracking apps, which you can download to your phone to remind you when it’s time to work out.
“On February 14, if you pig out on too many chocolates, does that mean you are forever doomed from dieting?” Fornell asks. “No, that’s only a problem if, come February 15, you’re still consuming chocolates.”
Weight Watchers is a trademark of Weight Watchers International Inc.