So how are those New Year’s resolutions going?
Last year, some of the most common resolutions included, “eat healthier,” “get more exercise,” and “get more sleep.”
And last year, just like every year, about 80% of those resolutions failed by February. So what do you do to keep your resolution alive and make those changes long-lasting habits?
1. Change Your Mindset
Here’s some great advice for attaining those resolutions, and everything else: keep a positive attitude. Assume you are going to reach your goals, then act like it. This will keep you energized and motivated for longer.
For example: Say you made a resolution to lose weight. You were doing great – up until that one Super Bowl party, when you ate a little of this, a little of that. Then you found it hard to get back to healthy eating.
Positive thinking can help you get back on track faster. Instead of thinking, “Oh man, I messed that up; what’s the point of continuing?” – with a positive attitude, you’re more likely to think, “Well, I slipped up but I was making great progress. I’m ready to start kicking butt again!”
2. Realize That New Behavior Doesn’t Happen Overnight
Forming a healthy habit is only part of your goal. The real measure of success is making that habit part of your life for years to come.
No matter how committed you are to a goal, it can take your brain some time to catch up. Experts used to think that amount of time was about three weeks, but now they believe it can take anywhere from two to nine months to get a habit to stick. If your goal is ambitious, it may take you more time to reach it. Have patience! Think of it as a journey, not a destination. Then pace yourself (the next step will help).
3. Break Your Goal Down into Small Chunks
Say you eat a lot of fast food and your resolution is to eat healthier. It’s probably not realistic to think that you’ll start sipping kale smoothies at every meal. But what you can do is figure out what you need to make that goal happen. Maybe it’s swapping in a few healthful meals a week or cutting down on the sugar in your morning coffee.
Breaking your resolution down into these smaller steps will make it seem easier. Even if you missed a workout or let your salad wilt and instead, enjoyed a few slices of pizza, you can return to taking those steps the next day, or whenever you’re ready.
4. Measure the Progress You’re Making
Get a small notebook and regularly make notes on the steps you’re taking and the progress you’re making. If your goal was to save more money, keep your receipts and regularly check your bank balance. If your goal was to get more exercise, buy a cheap pedometer and then record your steps every day.
However, if your goal is weight loss, don’t weigh yourself more than once a week, since your body weight may go up and down. Pick the same day every week (or every other week) to step on the scale. If the numbers are moving down, keep doing what you’re doing! If they’re not, look at the notes you’ve made and see if you can make some changes.
5. Get Help If You Need It
Set yourself up for your best chance at success. For health-related goals, your doctor is a good place to start. He or she can give you advice or offer resources that can help you achieve your goals, including some you didn’t even know existed. For example, many people are eligible to receive smoking cessation (stop smoking) programs for free – but you won’t know unless you talk to your doctor.
For some people, more than medical advice, they need accountability and an occasional cheerleader to help them reach their goals. Think about picking a relative or friend to tell about your goals and arrange to check in with them occasionally. Choose someone who is positive and believes in you; otherwise, their negative attitude might tank your efforts.
Above all, keep at it! Before long, you’ll start to see what works for you. Then, besides achieving this year’s goals, you can get a jump start on next year’s!