It’s Possible to Keep Your New Year’s Resolutions
You’ve made a New Year’s resolution? Congratulations: Research shows you’re 10 times more likely to successfully alter a behavior than if you hadn’t made a start-of-the-year vow. And maybe that’s why roughly 45 percent of American adults ring in the new year with a resolution.
But will they keep it? According to statistics, almost half will give up on their goals within six months. Avoid being one of them. No matter what you’ve vowed — to lose weight? get fit? save money? — these four tips will help you achieve your goal.
Vague goals won’t work. “You’ve got to develop a specific action plan for change,” according to John Norcross, Ph.D., coauthor of "Changeology: 5 Steps to Realizing Your Goals and Resolutions." Map out your strategy before the new year arrives. If you want to lose weight, decide the exact number of pounds to lose and set concrete mini-goals and the dates on which you aim to accomplish each of them. Want to save money? Determine the amount you will put aside each month and identify the exact changes in behavior you’ll make to get there, whether that means skipping your afternoon latte or carpooling to work to save on fuel costs.
Make Your Goal Public
Share your decision to change with friends and family who can offer support when you’re wavering and encouragement when you’re doing well at sticking to your resolution. “Public commitments are generally more successful than private decisions,” according to Norcross.
Substitute Good Behaviors for "Bad"
Don’t rely on willpower alone to help you change, said Norcross. That approach won’t work. Instead, build in a healthy behavior that’s incompatible with the one you want to change. So if eating your usual midafternoon treat runs contrary to your goal of dropping a few pounds, put together a small like-minded group and commit to taking a quick, brisk walk at your normal snack time. Each time you put the brakes on "bad" behavior, you’ll increase your confidence in your ability to make the change.
Track Your Progress
Record or chart your changed behavior. “Research indicates that such 'self-monitoring' increases the probability of keeping your resolution,” according to Norcross.
The new year can be an exciting time, full of the promise of fresh starts.It’s also an opportunity to recommit to your health and well-being. It’s easy to make resolutions. It’s another thing to keep them. Statistics tell us that 45 percent of people set New Year’s resolutions, but only 8 percent achieve success.
The January issue of ALTRUM News examines strategies to help you stay on track throughout the year.
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