We all do it. We make New Year’s resolutions and by January 5th, we’ve given up. Just me? Here’s how to keep them, according to science.
By the way, you should definitely check out our post 20 Ways to Have an Epic At Home New Year’s Eve party. If there has ever been a time to stay home and celebrate with family, it’s this year. Thanks, Covid.
How to Keep Your New Year’s Resolutions
Right off the bat, let me assure you that humans don’t always have the kind of willpower we wish we did. I know I don’t. Forgive yourself because you’re not superhuman. Unless you are, in which case I bow to your determination.
Make just one resolution.
We all want to lose weight, get rich, stop drinking, save money, start exercising, and learn to speak French. Pick one and you’ll have a much better chance at keeping it.
Forget willpower. Rewards work.
Immediate rewards such as enjoyment, predicted persistence at New Year’s resolutions, whereas delayed rewards did not. Obtaining enough shorter term pleasures from new changes mean they can become pleasurable habits in themselves. Then the new fitness regime can become as unconscious a habit as watching TV once was.Psychology Today
Think about your history.
Look back at those times when you’ve tried to stick with a New Year’s resolution and failed. Pick it apart. Where did it go wrong? Why do you think you missed the mark? What can you do differently this time.
Make reasonable New Year’s resolutions.
Aspiring to save one million dollars in one year is admirable. Unless you can give up enough Starbucks to save all that dough, it might be a little out of reach for the time being.
Instead, you could make a resolution to visit a financial planner, or open a new savings account, or add a little more to your 401K each month. Taking little steps will make you feel like you’re succeeding – because you are.
Say nice things to yourself.
Sounds silly, but the idea is based in science. In studies, researchers found that self-affirmation is the key to long-term success. When we are kind to ourselves our brains release the chemical serotonin which is essential for proper functioning of the pre-frontal cortex.
Easy does it.
Take one little step at a time. Want to lose weight, for example? Think about changing just one thing to start and when you’ve mastered that, move on to the next step toward your goal. (Like giving up cookies at night.)
PS: Hubs and I lost a lot of weight doing simple Keto. I wrote a super short book about how we did it, and what it was like to start and maintain.
Tell people about your New Year’s resolutions.
I know from personal experience that this helps. It’s harder to give up when you’ve told your friends and family what you’re trying to do. Sort of feels embarrassing when you have to go back and tell them you quit trying.
Do one better and talk to them about it. Tell them what it means for you to be able to succeed. Maybe they have some tips or can simply commit to call you periodically to see how you’re doing.
Join a Facebook group.
You’ll find that there are a number of very active Facebook groups for pretty much anything you are trying to stop doing or start doing.
Be nice to yourself.
We all fall short sometimes. Despite our best intentions, we can still miss the mark. You know what? That’s okay. Truly. Don’t beat yourself up. Take stock of what didn’t work and make a plan to change some things up and try again.
Have faith in yourself and know that we’re rooting for you. This is your year!
Sher Bailey is a writer in the Midwest who believes the power of humor, Mod Podge, and grandkids can fix most problems in life. You can find her at SherBailey.com.