The only New Year’s tradition more common than New Year’s resolutions is making jokes about not being able to keep New Year’s resolutions. It seems like no one is able to keep up with their self-promises for more than a few weeks. While New Year’s Resolutions are an inspiration to some, it’s hardly a serious matter to others. No matter which camp you belong to hopefully, this article will give you a few tips on how to keep a New Year’s Resolution that you can keep until next year.
1. Play to your strengths
How you treat New Year’s should depend on how seriously you take the holiday. Some people are really into the “New Year New You” mantra. If you’re one of these people this may be a great time to take on some pretty serious commitments. On the other hand, if you’re one of the people who regularly jokes about not being able to keep up with your resolutions into the spring, you should probably make your resolutions pretty small. That’s no reason not to make a resolution, however. After all, who knows, you may stick with it and most of our health problems come from habits that are broken one small change at a time.
There are other personal aspects to consider when planning your resolution as well. For example, many people plan on going to the gym more often, but that can mean paying a membership fee. If “putting money on the table” will make you more motivated to get your money’s worth than it might be a good idea, but if that’s not enough to keep you going it might just be a waste of money if you fail to keep your resolution.
2. Throw a Party
There’s strength in numbers. Chances are, you have a few engagements for this New Year’s Eve. Encourage your party to share their New Year’s Resolutions. This creates a sense of accountability that will hopefully encourage everyone to stick to their goals. After all, if you don’t tell anyone else what your resolutions are, who’s the wiser if you fail to keep your resolutions? Someone else knowing and caring whether you stick to a plan can be a big motivator for some people. Whenever I want to change something about myself I tell my wife about it, and her checking in on it helps me to stay on the path.
Going in on a New Year’s resolution with friends and family with goals like quitting smoking as a group or going to the gym together can also be more successful than trying to go it alone. These kinds of resolutions can be particularly good if you and your friends get into trouble together or share unhealthy habits. It can be easy to drink too much or smoke more when you have friends that do that, so a group of people dropping bad habits together can be helpful in a lot of ways and may help you grow as a group. Some people find that competing with their friends can be helpful, as can collective resolutions like losing one hundred pounds between six people.
3. Set reasonable goals
No matter how seriously you take the whole “New Year’s Resolution” thing, it’s possible to set the goal too high. A lot of people say that they want to start going to the gym every day or quit smoking. While these are noble goals, maybe consider something smaller like “Start going to the gym” or “cut back on smoking” or even “drink more water and less soda.” Resolutions are supposed to be gradual changes, not paradigm shifts. If things go well, just adapt your resolution as you go along and see how far you can get. If you do want to set a high bar for yourself with a health-related New Year’s resolution, it might be wise to talk to your healthcare provider first. They can help you decide how that change could impact other aspects of your life, or further guide you in how to keep your goals.
4. Remember what it’s all about
While resolutions can be encouraging, it shouldn’t be all about the resolution. After all, unless your resolution is entirely arbitrary, you made the resolution in the first place to improve your life or your health. If keeping a resolution isn’t enough motivation to keep a resolution, remember that you’re the real goal and a resolution is just a tool to help you reach it.
On that note, if you’re going to make a resolution at all, you shouldn’t just pull one from a magazine or borrow a resolution that a friend made, you should write one that is really important to you. If you pick an arbitrary resolution because your friends are sharing their while waiting for the ball to drop you’re less likely to keep it than if you had chosen a goal that was truly important to you.
5. Take it one step at a time
Some of us can make resolutions that can be kind of unrealistic. Making a decision one day and sticking to it for a whole year? That’s a pretty big commitment, and likely the reason that many people give up so early. Instead, think of your resolution as something that you do one month, one week, or even one day at a time. It’s easier to do something one month at a time for one year than it is to do something once for a whole year. Keeping track of how long you’ve already kept your commitment can also be motivational. If it starts to feel like a lot of work in a month or two, just remind yourself that you’ve already stuck with it for that long.
Whether you see New Year’s resolution as a silly tradition or a real motivation to change your life for the better, there’s nothing to lose by making one this holiday season and hopefully, with these tips in your head, you’ll be able to keep yours.