Personal Growth

New Year’s Resolutions: Yes, You Can Keep New Habits.

New year’s resolutions are tough. We all tell ourselves that a new year brings new possibilities, but how come your new year’s resolution always fails?

With the right strategies in place, you can follow through with your new year’s resolutions. It won’t be easy, but good things come to those who wait!

Why Do Most New Year’s Resolutions Fail?

Sadly, it’s true that most new year’s resolutions fail. The explanation, however, can provide a lot of insight on how we can change our mindset to not be a part of that group.

Sticking to new habits involves accepting and maintaining change. This whole process was studied and the transtheoretical model of change came about.

Essentially, when you’re making a change in your life, you’ll go through these phases:

New Year's Resolutions
  1. Precontemplation: You don’t believe that you have a problem. The people around you might stage an intervention at this point. You only see the benefits of maintaining this habit.
  2. Contemplation: You’re aware that you have a problem.
  3. Preparation: You start to think about how you can take the steps to fix your problem.
  4. Action: You’re starting your new habit and implementing it in your daily life.
  5. Maintenance: You regularly make time for this new habit, and it’s been a while since you started doing this.
  6. *Relapse: You fall back into your old routine. Some people fall back into relapse, but it’s always an opportunity to learn from your mistakes and start again in the contemplation phase.

The issue when you’re trying to stick to a new year’s resolution is going to the maintenance phase, or for some people, even going to the action phase!

You need to be mentally ready before you can stick to any new year’s resolutions. Don’t do it because everyone else is setting a resolution. Do it because you realize that something needs to change.

How to Stick to New Year’s Resolutions: Yes, You Can!

You can follow through with your new year’s resolutions as long as you keep these principles in mind. As long as you know how to keep habits and how to actually set goals, you’ll be the new you in no time!

Don’t Try to Do Everything

The whole concept of forming new habits is that you’re either adding or subtracting something from your life (this includes new year’s resolutions). If you add or subtract too many things, it’s overwhelming!

Start with one goal. All of your time and energy can be focused on reaching this one goal. This avoids you getting overwhelmed and you won’t change your entire lifestyle

If you try to do everything, you’ll burn out. If you have lots of goals to accomplish, your motivation will decrease if you don’t reach them fast enough or relapse. This might cause burnout, which makes you feel even worse about yourself! It’s a vicious cycle that you need to avoid.

So, just stick with one new year’s resolution that you can focus all of your attention on.

Do Identify Your Obstacles Associated With Your New Year’s Resolution

I’m going to hit you with yet another psychological model: the Health Belief Model. While this model is used mostly when people are trying to get healthy, you can use this logic when you’re trying to set any kind of goal.

The way we decide to adopt certain habits is determined by these factors:

Health Belief Model New Year's Resolutions
  1. Perceived susceptibility: Do you think you’re at risk of getting sick or being negatively impacted by not creating this habit?
  2. Perceived severity: What are the actual risks of not adopting this habit? (ex. getting sick)
  3. Perceived benefits: What are the benefits of creating this new year’s resolution?
  4. Perceived barriers: What are the barriers to accomplishing your new year’s resolution? Can you overcome these obstacles?
  5. Cue to action: Stimulus to cause you to get started on your goal (for most people, the cue to action is the beginning of the new year).
  6. Self-efficacy: How confident are you in your ability to reach your goals?

With this in mind, it’s important to identify your obstacles and develop strategies to overcome them. This gives you confidence in your abilities, which is necessary when you want to accomplish your goals.

Make a list of any obstacle you might face with your new year’s resolution. Then, find ways you can overcome them. For example, if you’re afraid of being too tired to work out after school, make time to work out in the morning.

Don’t Be Flaky with Your New Year’s Resolutions, Darn it!

When you set new year’s resolutions, you need to be consistent. You form habits when you consistently put the time and effort to make your resolutions happen.

How are you supposed to refine your piano skills if you only play once a month?

A study concluded that it usually takes people between 18 to 254 days to form consistent habits. That means that your new year’s resolution can take most of your year!

It will feel more natural once you make an effort to accomplish your new year’s resolution all the time.

Do Use Your Routine

Like I said before, your new year’s resolution requires adding or subtracting something from your life. It’ll be way easier to accomplish your goals if you take into account your daily routine!

Switch it up. Make the transition period easier when you create new habits. You can do this by changing only a little bit of your day. For example, if your new year’s resolution is to read more, you can easily fit this into your routine by reading during your breakfast.

Don’t make it all about your resolution. Don’t post about your resolution, actually go out there and do it! To make the transition as easy as possible, don’t burn yourself out by obsessing about your goals. It’s supposed to fit into your routine, not become it!

Little by little, you’ll be able to think of your new year’s resolution as just being another part of your day. Speaking of little…

Don’t Make Big Goals as Your New Year’s Resolution

You’re going to need a consistently high level of motivation if you want to accomplish a huge new year’s resolution. Here’s how that’s going to go:

  1. There’s an outlandish new year’s goal that you want to accomplish;
  2. You’re motivated to accomplish it for the first few weeks;
  3. You get burnt out or discouraged when you don’t see results right away;
  4. The work stops;
  5. You don’t accomplish your goal.

It’s a fact of life that your motivation levels change throughout the year. You never know what’s going to happen in life, so you might get discouraged sooner than you think. It’s hard to accomplish your goals when you choose something too hard to accomplish!

To solve this problem, chunk your big goal into little ones.

Making smaller goals makes it easier to achieve bigger goals.

Let’s say, for example, that you want to become a partner at a law firm. Is that possible, as a first year lawyer? No, and it will discourage you if you try to accomplish that big goal in a year!

Instead, create little goals that add up to the big goal. In this example, you create little goals to head to the direction of the big goal, like:

  • Getting an important client
  • Receiving a promotion
  • Finally getting a mentor

See what I mean? Split your new year’s resolution into little tasks that you can accomplish!

Do Use Rewards when Working on Your New Year’s Resolution

You need to try to make your new habits pleasant! Make it easier on yourself, and come up with little ways to make the tasks you need to accomplish a little better.

Essentially, you’re training yourself to keep up the good work! B.F. Skinner came up with the concept of positive reinforcement, which means to add a positive consequence to your behaviour.

Examples of healthy rewards you can give yourself can be:

  • Giving yourself a rest day after 6 days of working out;
  • Listening to music while you go for a job;
  • Spending the evening with friends after working hard all day.

If the reward is a healthy reward, it’s totally okay to treat yourself after working hard on your goals.

Don’t Make it Harder on Yourself

It’s going to take a bit of work on your part, but you need to stop making excuses. There will always be something that is stopping you, but you have to give yourself tough love to just do it already.

Give yourself a pep talk. You are your best cheerleader. You have been through more challenging times in your life, and you can reach your goals. Give yourself a pep talk when you don’t have a lot of motivation.

Use your ressources. Think of how you can use your ressources to achieve your new year’s resolutions. If your resolution is to work out, take out your workout equipment and make sure that you have activewear. Whatever your resolution is, make sure you’re ready to do it.

A little work now can really save your future self later.

Do Set SMART Goals

I love SMART goals. SMART goals are a way to remember how you should set goals. Your goals need to be:

  • S: Specific
  • M: Measurable
  • A: Achievable
  • R: Relevant
  • T: Time-sensitive

Specific. Find the 5 W’s of your goals. Who is involved in your goal? What is it that you want to accomplish? Where do you need to achieve this goal? When can this be accomplished? Why is this important to you?

Measurable. Having measurable goals is easier to track. Think of all the quantities that are involved in your resolution. For example, how many pounds do you want to lose? How many days will it take to achieve your goal?

Achievable. Your goal has to be realistic for you to accomplish it. Think of all the factors at play, and how possible it is for you to achieve your new year’s resolution.

Relevant. There’s a time and place for everything, so is it the right environment for you to achieve your goal? Ask yourself if this goal is really worthwhile, and if the right time to achieve it is now.

Time-sensitive. You most likely won’t achieve your goal tomorrow, so make a tentative schedule of what you want to accomplish. What do you want to do tomorrow, next week, or even next month to reach your goal?

Keep the SMART goals acronym in mind when you’re deciding to stick with your new year’s resolutions, and you’ll be golden!

New Year’s Resolution Ideas You’ll Actually Keep

If you’re not sure what new year’s resolutions you want to attempt this year, here are a few ideas:

Learn to meditate. Meditation is great when you feel stressed out, and it’s a good practice to have in general. Start off slow, and learn to relax!

Cut out sugary drinks. While this isn’t a total diet change, cutting out fizzy drinks will boost your energy for the new year. It’s way easier than a total nutrition overhaul, but you’ll totally see results!

Spend more time with loved ones. Maybe you’re a workaholic or too much of a people pleaser. Either way, it’s always a good resolution to warm your heart and make new memories.

Take evening walks. This is a great step to exercising more often. Evening walks are great alone or with good company, and you get your blood pumping!

Whatever goal you choose, make sure that it improves your quality of life in the new year.

Conclusion: You Can Stick to Your New Year’s Resolutions

It’s time that you be part of the 19% that stick to their new year’s resolutions. With these tips, not only will you defeat the odds, but you’ll prove to yourself that you have no limits with setting life goals.

You’ve got this.

Peace out!