Many people make New Year’s Resolutions — but few people keep them. When we fail to keep our resolution, we feel just that…failure. Not following through can leave us giving up on any healthy habits as a result. This year, stop the cycle of resolving to make a change, but then not following through. The best way to keep a resolution or goal is to plan ahead.
1. Be Realistic – Goals can certainly be ambitious, but remind yourself not to try for something that’s unrealistic. The surest way to fall short of your goal is to make your goal unattainable. For instance, resolving to never eat a favorite food again could be a bad choice for a New Year’s resolution. Strive for a goal that is attainable, such as avoiding a particular problem food more often. Another example would be to set a goal of 3 days of exercise a week instead of 7. If you get more than 3 workouts in, that’s great, but if not you don’t feel like a failure.
2. Plan Ahead– Waiting until the last minute means that decisions may be based on the mindset of that particular day rather than a more measured approach. Instead, a New Year’s resolution should be planned well before December 31 arrives. You can start by writing down your goal, making a list of things you might do to achieve that goal and noting any obstacles that might stand in your way. If it’s already too late for planning to start something in January, or you’ve already messed up your resolution then simply pick another date — February 1st, your birthday, etc. It’s never too late to start anew.
3. Share with Others– Don’t keep your resolution a secret. Bring family and friends into your plan, and with their help, goals will be easier to achieve. The people who care will be there to support the resolution to change habits for the better or to improve overall health. The best case scenario is to find a buddy who shares the same New Year’s resolution and to motivate each other.
4. Reward Yourself– Small rewards along the way can help in giving a sense of achieving goals. This doesn’t mean that you should eat an entire box of chocolates if the resolution is to eat more healthfully. Instead, celebrate successes with something enjoyable that does not contradict the resolution. After sticking to a promise to eat better, for example, perhaps a reward could be going to do something fun you’ve been wanting to try or a special place to eat.
5. Stick to It– Sticking to a plan is going to be the hardest part of keeping a resolution. Experts say it takes about 21 days for a new activity, such as exercising, to become a habit, and 6 months for it to become part of your personality. New healthful habits will become second-nature in no time.
6. Give Yourself Grace– Having a good attitude all the time isn’t always possible but working towards giving yourself a break when you mess up can help. Obsessing over the occasional slip up won’t help in reaching long term goals. Do your best each day, and take each day one at a time. When you mess up on your goal, don’t dwell on it. Get back on schedule again and keep moving forward with the plan.
7. Keep Working on Yourself– Not every resolution is going to be 100% successful. What matters is to keep trying. If a resolution has totally run out of steam by mid-February, don’t despair. Start over again! By February, many people have lost that initial spark of motivation that they felt immediately after making their New Year’s resolution. Keep that inspiration alive by continuing to work on your goals, even after facing setbacks. If your current approach is not working, reevaluate your strategies and develop a new plan. There’s no reason a “New Year’s resolution” can’t be made at any time of year.
At Integrative Health Matters, we look at the whole patient to solve the root cause of your symptoms. We offer personalized health assessments and health plans to keep you on track.