Want to Keep Your New Year’s Resolution This Year?

As the year draws to a close I find myself thinking about resolutions. It’s been quite a while since I’ve set one. Still, the turning of the year is a natural time to reflect on what’s past and consider what the future might hold as well as how I might direct it toward what I desire. And honestly, 2022 and its 2 predecessors have left me depleted and in need of change.

I did some research and made some interesting, though not completely surprising, discoveries. I’m starting out with the statistics, which are rather discouraging. Don’t despair though, there is good news. Feel free to skip right to the practical and encouraging tools you can use to achieve your goals this year if stats are not your thing.  

In an inc. article, I learned that 80% of new year’s resolutioners give up by February. However, the actual day most resolutions meet their demise has been identified as January 19 and aptly  dubbed “Quitter’s Day”.

In a blog called Discover healthy habits, the author states that while 41% of Americans make resolutions, only 9% of them feel they are successful in keeping them. 

Most resolutions involve improving health and living better lives. Worthy aspirations, right? So, why do we have so much trouble keeping them? My experience, Psychology Today and Discover Healthy Habits include the following reasons:

  1. Setting unrealistic goals – sometimes the goals set are so unattainable that they instantly portend failure
  2. Forgetting that they’d set one – well, of course, it needs to be important enough and attended to enough that you actually remember setting it!
  3. Not having a way to track progress – not establishing a starting point, mile markers and ultimate destination will make your aim likely to fade away
  4. Not being ready for the change proposed – there is nothing wrong with not yet being ready to make a change, make sure it is one that, although it is challenging is also something you are prepared to accomplish
  5. Making too many resolutions – getting overwhelmed by taking on too many changes
  6. Unclear goals – setting vague objectives will leave you without focus
  7. Getting discouraged by not seeing immediate progress – achieving a purpose is seldom a linear affair and if we start with one expectation of that, it sets us up to fail.

How do you become part of the 9%? There are tried and true means of making it happen. Choose some tools from below and let them guide you from where you are to where you wish to be. Picture that for a moment. Or more.

  1. Set goals that are meaningful to you, rather than ones that originate from external pressure – maybe someone in your life thinks you need to find a new job. If that is not at the top of your list, it is unlikely to be successful.
  2. Divide your goal into specific, measurable steps – add one fruit or vegetable a day or week into your diet rather than the sweeping I’ll eat more fruit and veg this year.
  3. Ready yourself for the change. You might choose the first month or more of 2023 to lay the groundwork. Readiness to change is a huge predictor. Quitting smoking is a frequent resolution but if you are not ready to do this, it won’t work. Choose something that might support that, like yoga breathing practices or walking around the block.
  4. Interestingly enough, asking a question proved more effective than making a declaration. For example, will I exercise more? Instead of I will exercise more. This was shown to last 6 months or more.
  5. Get enough sleep. According to sleep expert and neurologist Cathy Goldstein, M.D., sleep plays a major factor in the success your resolutions. Examples include: lack of sleep decreases leptin, a hormone that makes you feel full and increase ghrelin, “the hunger hormone” thus derailing healthier eating habits, sleep also improves speed, strength and endurance of those with exercise goals, if you’re looking to enhance work performance or get a promotion, proper sleep increase productivity and reported increases in cheerfulness, motivation and alertness;  sufficient sleep contributes to improved mood and social interactions if you wish to enhance your social life and enough sleep can lessen nicotine dependence.
  6. Build on existing habits. Let’s say you want to add yoga to your day. You already walk or run each day. Set your mat or some other reminder next to where you keep your running/walking shoes. When you return from your walk get on your mat for a few minutes.
  7. Set yourself up for success. If you want to exercise in the morning, lay out your workout gear the night before. If you want to eat more fruit, set a fruit bowl on your counter with fruits you like in it.
  8. Actually measure your progress. Maybe you have a fitness tracker of some sort that will do this for you. Or you might make yourself a good old fashioned sticker chart. Sounds silly but they are quite fun and motivating.
  9. Don’t beat yourself up for a bad day. You will have them. The difference between success and failure is not giving up when you get down to it, right? So, acknowledge what happened. If it helps review what led up to the lapse. Then pick yourself up, dust yourself off and speak to yourself encouragingly, as you would to a friend who was trying to do something difficult.
  10. Find ways to remind yourself throughout the year. Maybe you could have regular check ins with a friend who is also setting goals for themselves. You might set dates on your calendar to monitor your progress. You can use these times to adjust your goal, to reward yourself or to re-start.

I wish you success with your journey. Remember you get to define what success is to you. And you can adjust and change that as you work with your goal.

I would love to see your resolution and progress in the comments below. Maybe this can be where you do your check in. I promise to read and respond and cheer you on or pick you up as the case warrants.

Kim Trimmer

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