Nearly half of Americans make New Year’s resolutions, yet according to University of Scranton, research suggests that just eight percent achieve their New Year’s goals. In fact, of the people making resolutions, more than half have made the SAME resolution for more than five years! Why are we so bad at sticking to our resolutions and are there any ways that can increase our chance of success?
Arlene Perry, an NCU PhD student in Health Psychology and health coach with Healthy Living Denver, offers up five tips that will put you on the path to achieving your New Year’s goals once and for all in 2016:
- Do it “write.” Studies show that the simple act of writing down your intentions helps your mind and body connect and increases your chances of success. Select no more than three resolutions and write them on a piece of paper. Include specifics that you can measure (i.e. I will lose 10 pounds by March 1st; I will have no more than one glass of wine per week; etc.). Post your resolutions in a visible place -- your bathroom mirror or the dashboard of your car -- and say them out loud to yourself each day.
- Plan ahead. Now that you’ve created your resolutions, plan the specific actions you’ll need to take to achieve them. Don’t leave it to chance! For example, if your goal is to "exercise daily," mark your calendar with the workout classes you’ll attend. Pack your gym bag the night before, and take healthy snacks to work or in your car for pre-workout energy. As another example, if your goal is to “eat healthy meals,” cook a week’s worth of soup, quinoa, vegetables, beans, etc. and pack your lunch each morning.
- Get to the source of what’s sabotaging your efforts. Are you in a bad relationship that causes you to splurge on sweets every night? Are you stressed out at work from a demanding boss and feel too drained to exercise after work? Keep a journal and get in touch with what's eating you. See if you can make slight changes to the way you respond to situations. You might realize, perhaps, that’s it’s time to look for a new job or relationship! When you are able to recognize and tackle the root cause of why you eat or why you don’t exercise, it will be easier to reach your goals without turning to food for “comfort.”
- Visualize what your life will look like when you achieve your resolutions. Start by asking yourself: What do I want and why do I want it? If you resolve to lose 20 pounds, how will this benefit you? (i.e. more energy, more confidence, longer life, etc.) Picture how you will look – what are you wearing? A little black dress? Skinny jeans? How do you feel? Visualizing yourself as having achieved your goals will help you stay on track toward what’s truly important to you.
- Share your resolutions with friends and family. When you tell others, your commitments become more real and you become accountable. Consider finding a “workout buddy” or invite friends over to cook and eat new healthy recipes.
Use these tips and you’re on track to keep those New Year’s resolutions!