If your New Year’s resolution is already a thing of the past, you’re not alone. Only 8% of people achieve them and 80% of them fail by February. If your New Year’s resolutions have been a source of failure year after year, here are my tips to help make them stick.
Why Resolutions Are Good
Perhaps you don’t believe in making resolutions. Often times, “non-believers” admit that they don’t make resolutions because they always fail at achieving them. But, it’s a good idea to make them anyway. Why? Because resolutions make you honest about your current condition and focus on making your life better.
Most resolutions are about self-improvement and the intentions alone instill hope and optimism. Research has shown that about 30% of resolution-makers give up on their goal before they even reach the two-week mark.
Tips to Restart Your Resolutions
1. Master Good Sleep Habits
- You cannot form new habits when you’re tired. Period.
- The human brain craves routine and resists change because it doesn’t have to work as hard when a habit is old and established. So you’re more vulnerable to relapsing and abandoning your new resolutions when you’re worn out. Remember, the brain follows the path of least resistance, so don’t expect your brain to sort out your good (new) habits from your bad (old) ones. It cannot distinguish between one from another. To your brain, they’re just habits, and it likes the ones that are well established and easier to repeat.
- Don’t use your bedroom as a multipurpose room (especially an entertainment center). You want your brain to associate the bedroom as a place to relax and rest. Turn off the TV and phone.
- Wear a sleep mask. The pineal gland in the brain releases melatonin when it senses complete darkness. Melatonin is a hormone that regulates the sleep-wake cycle.
- Incorporate aromatherapy to promote sleep. (Sleep-promoting essential oils include lavender, chamomile, and bergamot.)
2. Find a Buddy
- Gain strength from a friend or family member going through the same thing.
- When you first started your resolution on January 1, a buddy resolution may not have made much of a difference at first, BUT social support starts making a big impact two weeks in when many give up.
3. Reframe Your Resolution
- Resolutions fail because they’re too vague. When they’re vague, they don’t require commitment. (e.g., if you want to start exercising, schedule a specific time of day to do it, the place, type of exercise, and the duration or distance vs. saying, “I want to exercise more.”) Your resolution should answer the questions: What, When, Where, With Whom, Why, and How?
- Set smaller WEEKLY goals. Break up your bigger resolution into smaller weekly chunks that are achievable.
- Keep it simple and sustainable. Don’t make your goals too complicated. One reason resolutions fail is because you’re initially bubbling over with motivation and enthusiasm, and your goals become overly ambitious.
- Be sure your New Year’s resolution is a goal YOU want to achieve. Resolutions often fail because they’re made based on what someone else (such as your spouse, doctor, or parent) is telling you to change. So be sure you’re aiming for something you WANT to do.
4. Monitor and Measure Your Progress Daily
- People are more likely to succeed if their goals bring immediate, rather than delayed, benefits.
- Focus on the short-term gain (e.g., fun spending time with your friends or moving to great music while you sweat) vs the long-term gain (e.g., improvement in your health).
- Progress is immediate and positive reinforcement (e.g., if your goal involves exercise, then embrace how you feel more energetic, less stressed, and empowered from the accomplishment.)
5. Reward Yourself
- When it comes to forming a new habit, the rewards teach your brain which actions are worth repeating.
- After completing your daily goal, reward yourself with a non-food reward (e.g., 10 minutes of alone time, self-massage, connecting with nature for 20 minutes, petting your pet)
Karen’s Fit Tip: Your early slips don’t predict failure, so don’t give up because you didn’t achieve your goals the first time. In fact, successful resolvers report early slips actually strengthened their resolutions, so stay encouraged and stay optimistic.