With the New Year upon us, one thing is certain for nearly half of all Americans: Making a New Year’s Resolution. According to research published by Statistic Brain Research Institute, 45% of the population in the United States made a resolution on January 1, 2015 and they expect the same number or more for January 1, 2016. The sad truth about those resolutions is that only 8% will actually pay off according to their research.
What can a person do to ensure that their goals are met and not forgotten after a few weeks of trying? Here are 10 tips to ensure success in 2016 and beyond!
1. Forget last year
Remembering the failed resolutions of years gone by will not help you succeed this year. According to Dr. Hristina Nikolova, an assistant professor of Marketing in the Carroll School of Management at Boston College, “Despite the common belief that remembering our mistakes will help us make better decisions in the present, we actually find that thinking about our failures at self-control leads us to repeat them and indulge in the present, so it’s not helpful at all.”
2. Want the change
If you just want to talk about it, your resolution won’t pay off. You have to want the change. According to Meg Baker, director of UAB Employee Wellness, in research published by the University of Alabama at Birmingham, “Readiness to change is a big factor, [and] based on the stages of change model: precontemplation (unwilling to make a change), contemplation (considering lifestyle change) and action, you have to want to change your lifestyle to successfully improve your health.”
3. Build up to success
Expecting results immediately is foolish. Take the advice published by Kansas State University from research conducted by Emily Mailey, assistant professor of kinesiology in the College of Human Ecology, “If you start with lofty goals, it’s easy to become discouraged if you don’t meet those goals right away. Start by trying to do something once or twice a week for short durations of about 10 to 15 minutes. Then you can build up from there. This way you can set yourself up to be successful.”
4. Tell people
Hiding a resolution from your family and friends is like hiding a blueprint from a contractor. Don’t be afraid to open up about what your goals are. According to Dr. Aaron Michelfelder of Loyola University, “When you tell other people you are trying to lose weight, they will give you their support, and stop shoving cake and candy your way.”
5. Look at the big picture
The number one resolution for Americans is losing weight. If you’re hoping to drop some pounds, research published by Orlando Health found that just dieting and exercising won’t yield the results you’re hoping for. “In order to lose weight and keep it off long term, we need to do more than just think about what we eat, we also need to understand why we’re eating,” says Dr. Diane Robinson, a neuropsychologist and Program Director of Integrative Medicine at Orlando Health.
6. Get some support
There really is strength in numbers. Want proof? According to Dr. Julie Sharp, Cancer Research UK’s head of health information, “Getting some support can help people take up good habits. For example if you want to lose weight and have a friend or colleague who’s trying to do the same thing you could encourage each other by joining up for a run or a swim at lunchtime or after work. And local support such as stop smoking services are very effective at helping people to quit.”
7. Don’t expect tech to save the day
Everybody’s wearing a new device that’s supposed to help achieve health-based results these days. According to research published by doctors Mitesh Patel, David Asch and Kevin Volpp, attending physicians at the Philadelphia VA Medical Center: “The notion is that by recording and reporting information about behaviors such as physical activity or sleep patterns, these devices can educate and motivate individuals toward better habits and better health, [and] the gap between recording information and changing behavior is substantial, however, and while these devices are increasing in popularity, little evidence suggests that they are bridging the gap.”
8. Power through temptation
Feeling a little too tempted? Research published by the University of Chicago indicates that just flexing your muscles could enhance your will power. Study authors Iris Hung and Aparna Labroo state: “The mind and the body are so closely tied together, merely clenching muscles can also activate willpower—thus simply engaging in these bodily actions, which often result from an exertion of willpower, can serve as a non-conscious source to recruit willpower, facilitate self-control, and improve consumer wellbeing.”
9. Time your last cigarette
If you’re a woman that wants to quit smoking, timing your last puff around your period could make your resolution to stop the habit a success. According to a new study by Adrianna Mendrek of the University of Montreal, “Our data reveals that incontrollable urges to smoke are stronger at the beginning of the follicular phase that begins after menstruation. Hormonal decreases of estrogen and progesterone possibly deepen the withdrawal syndrome and increase activity of neural circuits associated with craving.” Bottom line: Light your last cigarette after your cycle and you’ll be more likely to see results.
10. Sleep more
We’ve all sacrificed sleep for work, play or late-night television marathon binging. Recent research published in Annals of Internal Medicine indicates that could derail your fat loss goals. “If your goal is to lose fat, skipping sleep is like poking sticks in your bicycle wheels,” according to study director Dr. Plamen Penev, assistant professor of medicine at the University of Chicago. “Cutting back on sleep, a behavior that is ubiquitous in modern society, appears to compromise efforts to lose fat through dieting. In our study it reduced fat loss by 55%.”
With these 10 ways to strengthen any resolution, you’re sure to have the best tools at your disposal to ensure success in the New Year. Just be sure to stay diligent and not expect instant results. A New Year’s Resolution is a great place to start a change in your life, but it isn’t a guarantee or a magic trick. Do the work and by this time next year, you’re already a totally new person.