As the year 2017 rapidly comes to an end our thoughts will turn to 2018, often accompanied with New Year’s resolutions. The calendar change is usually the time people say this year will be different! However, statistics show that 36% of the resolutions will go by the wayside by the end of January and greater-than-half will be gone by midyear.
That has left many to question the value of making resolutions, particularly if they have had little success in previous years. Take it to heart, though, as whatever you hope for this year—to lose weight, to exercise more, to spend less money—you’re much more likely to make improvements by defining formal resolutions than someone who doesn’t.
Though there is no real secret to making lasting change, there are some techniques that will help. The best way to help keep a New Year’s resolution is to anticipate the limits of your willpower. Instead of fending off one urge after another, it helps to minimize temptations. Play offense, not defense, using willpower in advance so that you can avoid crises, conserve energy and outsource as much self-control as you can. Besides the simple things you can do yourself—plan meals in advance, keep junk food out of the kitchen, schedule workouts with friends, go to the store without a credit card—you can further bind yourself by outsourcing self-control through shared goals and progress with friends in emails and posting on Twitter and/or Facebook.
Regardless of the method you choose, one important aspect is to be specific with your goals. It is often said, “Fuzzy targets never get hit.” Instead of resolving to lose weight or eat healthier, set a specific goal—say, lose a pound a week. Consistent self-monitoring is vital to any kind of resolution and new tools will do the grunt work for you. Electronic scales and body-fat monitors will give you instant feedback and online programs and mobile device apps help track progress and keep you on task.
Another key is to concentrate on adding pleasure to your resolution. Add good foods to your diet prior to eliminating some of those guilty pleasures so the transition is smoother. If you use willpower only to deny yourself pleasures, it becomes a grim, thankless form of defense. But when you use it to gain something, you can wring pleasure out of the dreariest tasks. Set mini goals and reward yourself for reaching those goals: if losing weight, splurge on some new clothes. Also limit yourself to one big resolution at a time.
If you can make it through January, you have a good chance of lasting a lot longer.
Top 10 New Year’s Resolutions from 2018
- Lose weight
- Get organized
- Spend less/save more
- Enjoy life to the fullest
- Stay fit and healthy
- Learn something exciting
- Quit smoking
- Help others in their dreams
- Fall in love
- Spend more time with family