7 Strategies for Sticking With Your New Year’s Resolutions
When the clock struck 12 and the confetti came down on January 1, you might have felt a familiar feeling creeping up, a small voice saying, This year will be my year. With eyes bright and fireworks dotting the midnight sky, you made a mental checklist of how, finally, this year would be different: how you would start creating the life you want.
You set a few goals, sketched out a few plans, and envisioned a future for yourself: one that you could (and should) celebrate.
As the days stretched on, you found it harder to set aside time, to put in extra effort, and to keep working towards the goals you so ambitiously set. After a few weeks, as you heaved a final sigh and decided to postpone your new goals for yet another year, your optimism was replaced with a new feeling: disappointment.
If you’ve experienced this life cycle, you aren’t alone. Research shows that millions of Americans face similar challenges every single year — proving that New Year’s resolutions are tricky to start and even trickier to stick with.
With so many obstacles ahead, how can you create real and lasting change?
According to a 2020 Statista Research survey of 1,500 respondents, half of Americans make a New Year’s resolution every year. These resolutions involve everything from dieting to exercising to spending more time with family. Some people even make more than one resolution. The survey shows that the top resolutions are as follows:
The statistics suggest that 50% of Americans — 166 million people — set at least one goal on January 1. However, setting goals doesn’t necessarily mean sticking with them.
In fact, another survey from Statista found that a strikingly low number of people actually stick with their resolutions all the way through the year. In fact, only 4% of people implement all of their resolutions, and some implement none at all.
The results of the survey can be seen here:
Keep in mind, these numbers only consider people who stuck with their New Year’s resolutions all the way through the year. The reality is, though, that most people give up their goals long before December 31 comes around. In fact, January 17 is hailed as “Ditch New Year’s Resolution Day” because so many people call it quits then.
Different people drop their resolutions for different reasons, but respondents from one survey cited four main reasons. The #1 reason for quitting New Year’s resolutions is setting unrealistic goals — which rings true this year and every year.
The results of the survey can be seen here:
The only way to see a change is to make a change. If you’ve found that willpower, high hopes, and a touch of good luck aren’t enough to accomplish all of your goals, try a new approach this New Year.
Test out any of these 7 strategies to stick with your resolutions in 2022 and beyond:
SMART goals aren’t a revolutionary concept, but if you implement them correctly, they can lead to revolutionary results. SMART goals are goals that are: S(pecific), M(easurable), A(ttainable), R(elevant), and (T)ime-Based. Use the following strategies to implement SMART goals:
Take the example of weight loss. Instead of saying, “I want to lose weight this year,” apply SMART goal-setting techniques and say, “I want to lose 20 pounds by the end of spring by focusing on cardio and light weight training.” Taking the extra time to consider the extra details can have a major impact on your ability to accomplish your goals.
The #1 reason that people don’t achieve their goals is that those goals are unrealistic. In other words, these goals are often too “big” to easily implement. Enter the world of micro-goals. Micro-goals are bite-sized goals that, when executed on a regular basis, can ultimately help you achieve larger goals.
A writer from the Harvard Business Review offers an example of micro-goals:
“When I first started running, my micro [goal] was to lay out my gym clothes the night before and get into them first thing in the morning. When I eventually made it to the gym, my next micro [goal] was to simply walk on the treadmill for 10 minutes each day. Two years later, I ran my first 10K race — something I’d been trying to do unsuccessfully for a couple of decades. Formidable objectives suddenly become achievable.”
When you set your goals, then, start with an “ultimate” goal — losing weight, exercising more, etc. — but then break that goal down into smaller, more easily achievable goals to get your momentum going.
Social support is important in all aspects of life, including goal-setting. Instead of keeping your resolutions to yourself, call on a trusted network of people who can offer you feedback, encouragement, and praise. Aside from offering support, these people can also act as accountability partners for you and give you a dose of tough love when you need it.
Your support system can include:
No matter who you choose to have in your support system, choose to have someone on your side. No one is meant to go through goal-setting (and goal-getting) alone.
More than anything else, your mindset can set you back from executing and achieving your goals. Self-limiting beliefs can give you the impression that you aren’t capable of reaching your goals. Thus, they can create a self-fulfilling prophecy. Combat self-limiting beliefs by changing your frame of mind to be more conducive to goal-getting.
Try out any of these strategies:
If you’re like most people, you’ve probably dismissed working on your goal with one simple statement: “I don’t have enough time for this.” The reality, though, is that people make time for what they prioritize. If you’re serious about reaching your goals, be intentional about your time and prioritize putting your resolutions first. Try out a few of these best practices:
For an added measure of accountability — and to get a bit of extra motivation — download a few helpful and handy apps. Goal-setting apps like Strides, Coach.me, and Goals on Track can provide you with tools to track, monitor, and document your progress. Goal-specific apps can give you more tailored insights and advice into accomplishing specific goals. Try out these apps, according to each of your goals:
While you’re looking forward to the progress you’ll make, don’t neglect the milestones you’ve already reached: and reward yourself accordingly.
Rewards can boost your motivation and morale, help you form healthy habits, and offer an opportunity to treat yourself for all of your hard work. Whether it’s a new pair of shoes or a ticket to an upcoming event, a simple reward can give you something tangible to work for and make sure that your goals stay on track.
For best results, keep your goals and your rewards closely connected. For example, if your goal for the year is to take up cardio, reward yourself with running shoes, workout clothes, or a new pace monitor for your runs. Rewards like these can keep you excited about each of your goals while still rewarding yourself for taking steps forward.
New Year’s Resolutions are infamous for failing, but you don’t have to be just another number.
With the right strategies set in place, you can start (and stick with) new goals in 2022 — and make the changes that you’ve spent years thinking about. All it takes is one decision and one commitment to change, regardless of any obstacle, each and every day.
Decide if you’re up for the challenge.