Sure, we can all keep our New Year's resolutions for the first couple of days! The tricky part comes when the novelty wears off. When the resolutions start to feel way too ambitious, how can we continue to stick with them?
- Be reasonable. Lofty New Year's resolutions sound great and might impress your friends at the party on December 31, but is it really something that you can attain? Make sure that you aim for a reasonable goal - not to train to run a marathon if you're a tried-and-true coach potato, but maybe to run a 5K race. Instead of cutting all sugar out of your diet, try to limit desserts to once a week.
- Enlist help. Don't tell people who won't be supportive of your New Year's resolutions, but find a group of close friends or family members who can be trusted. Let them know your resolutions, and what they can do to help. Maybe you'll find someone who wants to be a workout buddy, or who can remind you why you chose a specific goal when you are feeling unmotivated.
- Make a group resolution. Better than encouragement, see if you can find some friends who have the same New Year's resolution! This way you can stick together, accomplishing more.
- Don't make a list of resolutions! This is a case of less is more. If you focus your efforts on one or two goals, you are much more likely to succeed than if you choose nine or ten.
- Plan ahead. Instead of thinking of a goal on December 31, think carefully about it. It can help to write down pros and cons or talk to a friend about which goals would be beneficial for you.
- Organize and schedule. Deciding to go to the gym when you feel like it doesn't work for most of us. Schedule the time in your calendar, and organize how you're going to do something. Do you have the supplies you need for your New Year's resolution? If you're trying to eat healthily, go through your kitchen and restock.
- Keep track. If you track your progress on your New Year's resolutions - whether it's miles run or vegetables eaten - you can look back and feel like you have accomplished something, which you have!
- Cut yourself some slack. You're probably not perfect, and you're not going to be perfect at this either. Making yourself feel bad each time you don't meet a goal is just going to set you up for failure.
- Try again. You can declare your own "New Year" at any time. If you weren't able to stop smoking in January, why not try again in June when the weather might be better. Try to stop eating so many sweets when you're under less stress. Remember, there's nothing magical about January 1, and another time of the year might just work out better for you.
New Year's resolutions can be a great reason to start good habits or another way to beat yourself up. Remember that it takes at least 3 to 4 weeks for most of us to start a new habit, so just keep on trying - eventually it will become second nature.