How to make your new year's resolutions stick
Love it or hate it, the new year is a time to talk about resolutions and things to do (or not do) to improve your life. We create plans to have a more active and healthier lifestyle, improve our finances, learn new skills, and have more exciting experiences. But let’s face it. For many, just a few weeks into the year, these resolutions are well forgotten.
Why don’t resolutions work in the first place?
The start of a new year is always a great time to reflect on achievements and plan out the next step. But we can often get so caught up in the hype that we can lose focus on what’s important.
Resolutions can fail because:
- They’re based on what someone else or society is telling you to change.
- They’re too vague.
- There’s no realistic action plan.
Here’s how you can make your resolutions work for you:
1. Let purpose guide you
Purpose is in its simplest form - your reason for doing something. In the context of goal setting, research* shows that purpose-based performance is healthier and more sustainable than outcome-based performance. Figure out why each resolution is personally meaningful for you. If achieving a new goal will positively impact your wellbeing, family, friends, and the wider community – the chances are that your motivation and drive can be sustained in the long term.
2. Reframe your resolutions
The best way to succeed is to set clear, realistic, and achievable goals. For example, you can turn:
“Exercise more” into “I’ll exercise for 30 mins, three times a week so I can feel good and have the energy to be present with my family.”
“Reduce social media” into “I’ll limit my social media intake to 20 minutes a day so that I can spend my time on more fulfilling activities.”
“Start studying” into “I’ll commit to studying a course 12 hours a week that will help me develop the skills to take the next step in my career.”
3. Write it down
Document your resolutions and refer to them when needed. Do whatever suits your style, whether writing in a journal, sending yourself an email, or sticking post-its on the wall. These reminders will help prompt you to act and can help clarify what you want to achieve. By the end of the year, it’ll be nice to reflect on your progress and see how far you’ve come.
4. Find your people
You don’t have to do it alone. In fact, people are more successful at achieving their goals when they’re surrounded by like-minded people. Try finding a workout buddy or meeting up regularly with friends for coffee to discuss business ideas. Having others involved with your journey can keep you accountable for sticking to your plans and build a community to help inspire you.
5. Don’t give up
Remember that small, incremental changes make the biggest difference in the long run. If you’re frustrated that you don't see change – trust that the process is already underway. You may also face some hurdles on the way and fall off the wagon for a little bit. That’s perfectly okay – progress is not a linear path. When you’re ready, have faith in yourself and try again.
What's next for you?
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Houltberg, Benjamin J., Self-Narrative Profiles of Elite Athletes and Comparisons on Psychological Well-being, 2018, Research Quarterly for Exercise and Sport