Every January, you see the determined, motivated faces of people all around you working to improve themselves in the New Year. Inevitably, by March or even sooner, the vast majority of those have found themselves off-track or completely given up on their goals. It’s not a lack of desire for these changes or even a lack of commitment that has knocked them off the path toward a better self. For many people, change is just plain HARD. To make a resolution stick, you’re not only implementing a new habit, but you’re breaking an old one. There are ways to overcome that inertia, though, using incremental steps toward a larger goal and a big helping of self-compassion. Here are some tips for sticking with our most popular new year’s resolutions.
First, to get more fit instead of promising to work out every day or aiming to lose 50 pounds in six months, it’s more realistic to ask yourself to begin a more flexible exercise routine. The goal should be to gradually increase your physical activity, to keep from losing motivation. Tools like your smartphone or a wearable fitness device are helpful to keep you on track, because they keep you accountable to the goals you set while remaining flexible in the type and timing of your activity. Finally, find an activity that doesn’t feel like torture, so it becomes easier to make time for working out.
Second, improving your diet is similar, because it takes more planning and effort than eating out every night. Using tracking tools and meal-planning apps can help reduce the mental energy required to make positive changes. Plan ahead by using free time on a day off to do your grocery shopping and meal preparation ahead of time, which can help you avoid temptation to eat junk.
Third, healthier habits are typically built to prevent the damage that an unhealthy lifestyle and time can do to your body. This year, it’s important to resolve to take charge of your health. That means visiting your primary care doctor or local urgent care center such as AFC to get screenings and assess risks based your lifestyle or family history. Knowing what’s going on within your body is the first step to taking action, and preventing a condition from becoming a problem is much easier than dealing with it after it has already affected your life.
These resolutions top the list year after year because they are some of the most difficult to achieve, yet the most important for your long-term health. Breaking the larger goal into smaller pieces is a proven way to stick with it, because it makes you feel like you’re succeeding every day. So keep this in mind as you’re deciding your goals for the New Year and give yourself a better chance of crossing a few big-time goals off your list.