The new year is a perfect time to turn over a new leaf, but how many times do we actually follow through with our New Year's resolutions? Sadly, over half of all Americans will abandon their resolutions by June, no matter how motivated they feel at the beginning of the year.
There are a few good tips that are likely to help you avoid the New Year's resolution, though. People who have had the most success in making their resolutions "stick" recommend following these simple guidelines:
- Don’t try to change your entire lifestyle all at once. Making small, manageable, precise resolutions that address one area of your life at a time is key to your success at keeping those resolutions. For example, if you want to begin an exercise routine, don’t give yourself a very broad, vague goal like “start exercising”. Resolve instead to make it to the gym for at least 30 minutes 3-4 days a week. Once that behavior has become a habit, you can make the next small step forward.
- Share your resolutions with family and friends. When you make your resolutions known, not only do you have a greater support system for achieving your goal, but you hold yourself accountable for following through with those resolutions. Sometimes this can even spur those loved ones to try to make healthy changes themselves, which creates an even bigger network for support and encouragement.
- Surround yourself with positive reinforcement. Avoid people who bring you down or don’t share your motivation to move forward in a positive way, and instead look for those who make you feel good inside when you’re around them. Similarly, reward yourself when you meet your individual goals, and don’t beat yourself up when you backslide. Don't expect perfection--it's unrealistic and won't lead to anything but disappointment and discouragement. Understand that you'll have some minor missteps. When these little mistakes threaten to undermine your progress, just remind yourself that tomorrow is a whole new day and a whole new opportunity to get back on track.
- Don't expect miracles to happen overnight. Real change takes time. Experts estimate that it requires at least 60 days for most people to break old habits and replace them with new ones. In addition, you may not see a lot of positive physical and mental effects of those changes right away because your body and mind are still adjusting to your new normal. If you know ahead of time that you will likely reach a point where you feel like you're not making progress (even though you are in reality), you're more likely to find the motivation to power through that slump.
In addition, you may benefit from tracking your progress on a regular basis. Don't let this become a chore in and of itself; only do this as often and in as much detail as you find helpful. However, some sort of concrete record can help you see a more complete picture of how far you come than the less dramatic, day-to-day increments that we tend to focus on.
Cheers to a healthier, happier 2021 for all!
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