Feeling confident about your New Year’s resolutions? Or are you living in fear that you’ll slip up like last year? While it’s easy to think of ways to improve yourself, following through is a whole other story. I recently stumbled across this cool infographic from Happify, which explains the science behind what it really takes to achieve our goals.
Here’s what I found interesting: The Top Five Resolutions are 1) Lose weight, 2) Get organized, 3) Spend less, save more, 4) Enjoy life to the fullest, and 5) Stay healthy and fit. I wasn’t surprised that the top New Year’s resolution is to lose weight, with 51% of Americans reporting a desire to lose weight. What is surprising is that only 26% of us are doing something about it. How can this be?
Without a plan, a resolution is more of a dream than a goal. Check out these ideas for making resolutions stick:
1. Plan to succeed. According to Happify, we tend to focus more on the goal than the process. If your goal is to lose weight, it’s not enough to picture yourself bikini (or Speedo) ready. A little research and prep goes a long way. Cognitive behavioral expert and author Dr. Judith Beck suggests you find three diets that you like before starting the first. Map out a meal plan for the week, keeping in mind the real life interruptions like a birthday party or business lunch. Clean out your kitchen, so that there isn’t any junk food around to derail you. Eat on your most beautiful plates to elevate the experience of eating healthfully.
2. Choose the right goal. If your resolution is to get fit, don’t expect to run a 5K next weekend. Smaller, measurable goals will ultimately get you ready for that 5k. Time-specific goals are also helpful. Instead of promising yourself you’ll go to gym more often, plan the days and times you’ll exercise. A deadline or commitment can help motivate you. Choose things you love to do. If you despise lifting weights, but love yoga, find a yoga practice that will sculpt and tone your body.
3. Marshal your inner strength. Our society’s drive for immediate gratification is one of the reasons we find habits hard to break. Adjust your expectations! It can take 15 to 254 days to form a new habit. Your brain is like a muscle, and it needs to be trained like one. Positive reinforcement helps. If your goal is to build up your finances, every time you pass on a purchase write the item and its price on a list you keep with you and review it often. Instead of an impulse buy, imagine opening your credit card bill at the end of the month and seeing a figure you like.
4. Seek social support. Making connections is part of the magic of life. Science shows the more connections we have, the happier and healthier we tend to be. Only 6% of couples engaged in the same workout programs quit. So find a group of like-minded individuals whose company you can enjoy as you start new hobbies. Have a friend keep you company and offer moral support while you tackle the clutter in your office. But watch those naysayers. Often times the people closest to us don’t want us to change. Being prepared for negativity can help cushion the blow of a hurtful comment.
5. Rewire your outlook on resolutions. Studies show that we tend to exaggerate the effort it takes to attain a goal. Don’t make it into something that’s harder than it really is. When all else fails, borrow Nike’s infamous slogan and “Just Do It.” Nothing changes if nothing changes.
Are you keeping up with your resolutions? What are your goals, and do you have any suggestions for staying on track? Let me know. I’d love to hear from you.