Well, it’s that time again. Everywhere you go, someone will ask, “Hey, did you make any good New Years’ resolutions?” The turning of the calendar can afford us an opportunity to turn over a new leaf, to break a bad habit or to become a better person.
Though it doesn’t work that way for most people.
Even though close to 45% of people—and more women than men—try to use the new year to jumpstart some change, for most it just doesn’t happen. According to recent studies, 92% of people who make resolutions on January 1 will have dropped them by December 31, and usually long before. In fact, fully two thirds who make an exercise resolution will break their goal within the first thirty days!
Still, if you can get better, isn’t it worth a try?
Here’s few things research tells us would increase your success of using New Years’ resolutions to make positive changes in your life:
1. Try for small, achievable targets, not pie-in-the-sky goals. Don’t aim for an unachievable weight gain (say, 40 pounds) but something you could actually achieve, say, one to two pounds a month.
2. Focus on January. If you keep your resolution for the the first month (I’ll hit the gym twice a week), your chances for making the habit last for the year increases dramatically. One in three resolutions don’t survive the first month.
3. Develop a plan for the first three months. Those who can stick to their resolution for 90 days have gone a long way to making it last. For example, if you’ve organized your schedule for three months to build in two weekly trips to the gym, by the time you hit April, it will almost be automatic.
4. Accountability can make the difference. Resolutions work better, according to the research, when you have some way of keeping score. Having a buddy who will keep you on track also increases the chance of succeeding. Plus, if you’re charting your success, it’s much easier to “forgive” yourself when you skipped your exercise time or indulged when you shouldn’t have, and keep focused on your long term goal and stay the course.
5. Make your resolution something you care about. Don’t set a goal of losing weight or eating better or working out more because your partner (or your friend or your mom) wants you to. It’s too easy to blame someone else when you want to quit. You need to choose something that’s important to you. And that will increase the likelihood of sticking to it when the going gets tough.
Hopefully this helps. Still not inspired? Maybe take a look at these resolutions. None of them are painful and they all can make you a better YOU.
1. Make a new friend each month. Did you know that having real friends (no, not FB friends) increases your mental and physical health and leads to a longer, healthier, happier life?
2. Develop a positive relationship with your body. Yes, it is possible to have a resolution to improve your physical being (I want to lose three pounds a month) and still be okay with how you are physically. You don’t have to hate your body to want to make some improvements. Spoiler alert: nobody thinks their body is good enough.
3. Learn something you never learned as a kid. Why not nurture your inner child and explore an area new to you (another culture, a new kind of art or a different food) or try to develop some skill you’ve never done. You’ll learn something and might even discover a new love.
4. Do something nice for others everyday. We’ve all heard it—pay it forward, but how often do we do it? Wouldn’t the world—or at least your world—be a better place if we all did something nice for somebody else each day? I can’t think of a better New Years’ resolution, or better prescription for the divided society we live in, than to do something nice for others—without expecting anything in return.
Oh, and Happy 2020!