How to Stick to Your New Year’s Resolutions

By Tonny Wandella

Again, this is that time of year. “What’s your New Year’s resolution?” your friends, family, and coworkers are asking now that the champagne bottles have been popped and the balls have dropped.

Some people enjoy the New Year’s resolution tradition of having  goals set. Others claim that it’s a waste of time because the majority of resolutions fail by the middle of March. Despite the bleak statistics, there is rationality in joining the New Year’s resolution bandwagon.

You’re more driven to tackle your goals on days like New Year’s, your birthday, and even Mondays because you feel like you can finally put your past mistakes behind you. Perhaps you intended to stop smoking, get in shape, or begin going to sleep at a respectable hour last year but failed to do so. A new year’s start allows you to put those mistakes behind you and convince yourself, “That was the past me, but the new me will be better.” Here are some of my favorite science-based resolution-keeping tips:

Make it Enjoyable

When it comes to reaching our objectives, most of us strive for efficiency. If you want to get in shape, you believe that a rigorous workout will be the best way to achieve speedy results. You assume that if you want to ace a class, you’ll need extensive, distraction-free study periods. However, research has shown that focusing on efficiency might leave you high and dry since you’ll overlook an even more significant factor: whether you like the process of achieving your goals.

If exercising or studying isn’t enjoyable, you’re unlikely to stick with it. However, research has shown that if you enjoy your exercises or study sessions, you will stick with them longer. And, in the end, that’s what matters the most when it comes to sticking to a New Year’s resolution.

Allow for Unforeseen Circumstances

Your instinct may be to proclaim yourself a failure and throw in the towel if you deviate even little from your New Year’s plan. This is known as the “what the heck effect” by researchers.

According to research, setting tough goals (such as a 10 p.m. bedtime every night) but allowing yourself one or two get-out-of-jail-free cards each week yields greater results than setting either harsh or easy goals with no wiggle room. Your stretch goal motivates you, and the option to declare a “emergency” (rather than “what the heck”) keeps you moving forward after a setback.

Make a Cue-based Strategy

Actively planning where and when you’ll carry out your New Year’s resolve helps to refresh your memory when the time comes and creates remorse if you don’t follow through. (It also doesn’t hurt to put your plans on the calendar and set a digital reminder.) Detailed planning also helps you foresee and avoid barriers, such as declining a lunch meeting if you want to meditate during lunch.

If you didn’t keep your New Year’s resolutions the year before, this could be a sore spot. According to some estimates, only about 8% of individuals keep their resolutions each year, yet millions around the world continue to make goals in the hopes of a better year ahead. It’s all about committing to your goals in 2022, whether you choose to lose weight, become organized, or do anything else.

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