It’s January 7th, which means we are a week into the New Year and, if you’re like me, you might have given up on your New Year’s Resolution already. I had every intention of keeping a food diary but then I forgot to do it on the first and then … Yea … I haven’t started it yet. Statistics show that it takes about 21 days to form a new habit; if you’ve been good about following your resolution so far, you’re well on your to making it permanent. But if you’re like 92% of Americans, you might already be struggling to “read more” or “go to the gym.” Don’t give up! You can still commit to your resolution and make it work. Here are some tips:
1. Don’t quit cold turkey. 100% resolutions like “giving up coffee” or “never using your credit card again” rarely stick because they’re too absolute. Chances are you made a resolution like this to break a bad habit and that means temptation to fall back into that habit probably lurks around every corner. When you inevitably give in and eat a piece of candy or skip the gym you’ll feel guilty and defeated which will make you more likely to just give up altogether. Instead set resolutions that allow for some wiggle room. Instead of “I’m not drinking coffee any more,” try, “I’ll only drink coffee on the weekends.”
2. Be specific. Some resolutions sound good when you repeat them to everyone at a New Year’s Eve Party, but don’t work so well once January 1st actually rolls around and you have to put them into action. Stuff like “lose weight” sounds like a great idea, but how do you measure your success? How much weight? How are you going to do it? Focusing on a small, behavioral resolution increases your likelihood of achieving your goal. “I’m going to go to yoga class 3 times a week” is a resolution that will help you lose weight AND you will be able to definitively say if you stuck to it or not. Keep the goal small, realistic, and achievable.
3. Only say it if you mean it. Do you even really care about losing weight? Or do you even like going to the gym? Resolutions for resolutions sake are never effective. Make your resolution something you actually want to do, even if it seems small or insignificant. One year my boss’s resolution was to get a library card. Seems simple, but it was something she had been meaning to do for a long time and making it her resolution made her actually get herself to the local library. If your resolution is something you’re not enthusiastic about, you won’t commit to it.
Hope these tips help you stick to your resolution. Now if only I could find that notebook I meant to write my meals down in…