With New Year’s Eve just right around the corner, we thought now would be a great time to talk about resolutions. Many people see the new year as a clean slate and a fresh opportunity to start the year off on the right foot—and stay on it—over the proceeding 12 months with one or more resolutions. Setting a new year’s resolution is noble and can absolutely pay off in major ways, but as we all know, setting a resolution isn’t the hard part. It’s keeping the resolution for the whole year.
It should come as no surprise that success rates for keeping a resolution start off high in the first few weeks of the new year, then drop gradually as the year continues. Statistics vary on how many people do stick with their resolution for the entire year, but some studies have found that it can be as low as 9% or as high as 55% of individuals. However, one thing is clear: those who set a resolution are significantly more likely to change their behavior than those who don’t make these yearly goals. Therefore, it’s better to focus on the potential benefits of setting resolutions than the discouraging odds sticking to them. It also helps to have a strategy to help you keep your resolutions for as long as possible, and that’s what we’re here for.
Why don’t most resolutions stick?
New year’s resolutions vary widely across the board, but there are some popular ones that stand out. Among the most common resolutions are exercising more and improving one’s fitness, losing weight, saving money, and improving one’s diet. Some studies have also reported that more than half of people keep the same resolutions as the previous year, suggesting a desire to overcome initial failures with these resolutions.
While there’s no single reason most people don’t stick with their resolutions, one common problem is starting out strong with ambitions that are too high and a regimen that’s too difficult, only to find out that maintaining it in the long term is not feasible. Many individuals also set resolutions that are far too general—like “lose weight” or “eat healthier”—which can be difficult to measure and quantify. In addition, it’s important to note that truly changing one’s habits in the long term is extremely difficult, which is why so many people eventually resort back to their old ways as time passes.
Our top 7 tips to help you beat the odds
If you’re serious about beating the odds and turning your resolution into a long-term habit, here are top 7 tips to help you make it happen:
- When deciding on one or more new year’s resolutions, try to avoid setting the ones that you’ve failed to stick with in the past—especially from the prior year— at least temporarily
- For example, if your resolution was to “be more productive” every year for the past 4 years, it may be time to try something else—like picking up a new hobby or eating fewer snacks—this year; you can always come back to that elusive resolution in the future
- Start by setting a clear and concrete resolution that can be quantified and then create a plan for the year that will get you there
- For example, lose 10 pounds, run 4 miles per week, or only eat desert on the weekends
- Don’t expect to make big changes right out of the gates; start with small and manageable changes, then gradually work your way up as you progress
- For example, if your goal is to run 4 miles per week and it’s your first time running regularly, start by doing a combination of running and walking over shorter distances, then increase your mileage slowly as your fitness and stamina improve
- Try new types of exercise or different settings if your game plan in the past hasn’t been working
- For example, if you’re not a “gym person” or find getting to the gym to be a hurdle in your fitness plan, avoid the gym altogether and try working out at home with workout videos and a few pieces of basic equipment
- If you’re trying to learn a new skill, make it as easy as possible to practice
- For example, if your resolution is to learn to play the guitar, leave your guitar in a visible location in your home rather than in a closet; this will reduce the amount of time needed to pick it up and start playing
- Get support people you’re close with
- For example, tell your friend, spouse, or family member about what resolution(s) you’ve set and ask them to check in on you periodically to see how you’re doing; it helps to have external sources of motivation
- Reward yourself any time you accomplish something, however small it may be; on the flip side, don’t give up or get down on yourself if you failed to meet a weekly goal or slipped up in some way; change takes time and there will be bumps and roadblocks along the way
If you can make a commitment and adhere to these tips, 2023 may just be the year that you finally conquer your new year’s resolutions, which will leave you feeling awfully proud of yourself when next December rolls around.