The beginning of a new year brings so much hope. You vow to be a healthier, kinder, more focused, balanced version of you. You make resolutions, and you’re all gung ho to stick with them.
And then reality sets in.
Turns out that only 8% of people actually follow through and achieve success with their resolutions. That’s not a lot of people! However, this year you can be in that 8%. You can make 2019 the year that you actually stick with those resolutions for good. Here’s how:
Consider your “why.” Ask yourself why you are making a particular resolution. The answer should be something that you deeply connect with—like eating healthier so you can have more energy to keep up with your kids. If it isn’t, then you might want to reframe your resolution.
Piggyback an existing habit. Not all habits are worth breaking. In fact, some of them can actually help you stick with your resolutions. “Want to floss your teeth every night? Do it right after you brush,” Debra Russell, a business coach in New Jersey told Forbes. “Want to take vitamins? Put them next to your coffee maker and take them while it’s brewing.” You get the idea.
Tell the world. Turns out that social media can actually do a lot of good when it comes to keeping resolutions. If you tell friends and family you’re training for your first 5K, learning a new language, or attempting to quit smoking, you’ll be less likely to ditch your plan. Making your goals public simply helps keep you more accountable. Plus, some of those loved ones can help support you along the way.
Take baby steps. Chris Berdik, a science journalist and the author of Mind Over Mind told Yahoo! Finance that people don’t stick with their resolutions “because people typically set long lists of large, unattainable goals for themselves, rather than small, easy ones—the kind you might actually be able to stick to.” So if you say, “I’m going to lose 20 pounds,” that can be rather daunting. However, if you say, “I’m going to lose two pounds this week,” or “Instead of having dessert every night, I’m going to just have it on the weekends,” those goals seem more attainable. Over time, you can keep adjusting those mini-goals until you achieve your ultimate goal.
Keep track. Sure you’re going to probably weigh yourself at least once a week if you want to lose weight, but it turns out that you can use the same concept no matter what your goal is. For instance, Jeffrey Gardere, a renowned psychologist in New York City, told the New York Times that if “you want to stop biting your nails, take pictures of your nails over time so you can track your progress in how those nails grow back out.” Writing about your goals can help too. Consider leaving inspirational Post-it! Notes in your bathroom or on your refrigerator that can help inspire you to stick with the plan (whatever that is!) each day!
Stick with the plan. You might have heard that it takes 21 days for a habit to stick. Well, it might be even a little longer than that. For instance, one recent study found that it took an average 66 days to make actions like eating fruit at lunch and running 15 minutes a day a habit. Some people developed good habits faster; others took longer. In other words, be patient. You will make those habits stick, but don’t expect them to do so overnight.
Get help. The American Psychological Association suggests that if you’re finding sticking with resolutions too overwhelming, then you might want to consider seeking professional help. A good psychologist or therapist is trained to help you focus on your goals and help you get past any roadblocks to success.