How to make your resolution stick this year
For many people, January is a time to commit to New Year’s resolutions, whether it’s a diet change or decision to read more and watch TV less. It’s a time to make changes and reset.
“It’s always appealing for people to leverage distinct transitions to start something new,” said Dr. Munther Barakat, director of Behavioral Health Therapy at Aurora Psychiatric Hospital. “The start of a new year is a transition shared by all.”
But by the time February rolls around, many people have long since forgotten about their resolutions or given up. So how do you make your New Year’s resolutions stick this time?
Pacing yourself is key to succeeding with your New Year’s resolutions. Focus on a small change.
“Starting small increases the likelihood that a person can keep their resolution,” said Dr. Barakat.
Make a plan
“Don’t attempt to abruptly stop an unhealthy behavior with no plan,” said Dr. Barakat. “People often fall into the pitfall of saying their resolution will be to stop smoking or to eat better and not have a plan in place that’s reasonable.”
A concrete plan with small, reasonable steps can help you keep your resolution and achieve the self-improvement you’re hoping for.
Focus on actions, not results
It’s also important to focus on actions rather than results. Fixing on a regular practice rather than achieving a certain outcome can help you to keep your resolutions.
“Instead of setting a resolution based on results such as weight loss, people should set their resolution based on how many days a week they plan on working out or going to the gym,” said Dr. Barakat.
Whatever your goal is, focusing on concrete small changes rather than outcomes can help you keep going and even make it more likely for you to get the results you wanted.
Share with family or friends
“Sharing the resolution with others also increases the likelihood of keeping it,” said Dr. Barakat.
Telling family or friends can help keep you accountable and encourage you to persevere towards your New Year’s resolution. Even just mentioning it to someone else makes it less likely that you will give up on your resolutions quickly.
You may be wondering whether failing to keep your New Year’s resolution really matters.
“Try not to set yourself up for failure,” said Dr. Barakat. “Setting a goal with no plan will likely backfire and make you feel badly about yourself.”
About the Author
Ben Hoekstra is a public affairs coordinator with Advocate Aurora Health. He previously worked in marketing and PR for various Milwaukee nonprofits and received his master’s degree in Corporate Communications from Marquette University. He enjoys the outdoors, cooking, and all things Milwaukee.