Year after year, we make vows to improve our overall health by setting new years resolutions. Such promises usually include eating better, getting more exercise or getting organized. But how often do these goals really stick? What goes wrong every year in March —or even February— that makes some of us fall off the bandwagon? A lot of factors could go into the decision to push new years resolutions back another year. However, if you have realistic expectations, set small goals and change one behavior at a time, you might just keep that resolution you’ve been working on the past three years. Here are three tips to help your resolution stick.
Setting realistic expectations
The best place to start when setting expectations is to be honest with yourself. Is this goal something you can truly accomplish in the timeframe you have laid out? If the honest answer is no, you might want to re-think your expectations.
Don’t expect to wake up on January first and have all the will power in the world (you most likely stayed up past midnight after all). Go easy on yourself or you’re more likely to slip up for good. If you make a goal too difficult to achieve, it’s likely you will begin to think your goal is out of reach and give up on it altogether. Keep your aspirations simple and realistic and you’ll be on your way to achieving them, and ultimately your big-picture goal.
Set small goals
Instead of saying to yourself “I’m going to lose 60 lbs. by December 31st.” try setting simpler goals, such as “I’m going to exercise at least three times this week and eat a healthy lunch every day.” Creating small stepping stones over shorter periods of time make your resolution easier to achieve.
”You’ll feel good when you accomplish each goal, and your success will help boost your resolve: The better you are at making small changes, the easier it will be to keep you going.” says Andrea Bonior, Ph.D., in an article for WebMD. The energy and momentum you have from small accomplishments will help perpetuate your success to keep it going long-term.
Change one behavior at a time
While it’s ambitious to try to improve your diet, exercise habits, dental hygiene, finances, family life and time management all at the same time, you may find making changes in all areas of your life too demanding. Try working on one thing for a few weeks or months, then add in a new behavior once the first goal has become a habit. If you use a gradual approach, your chances of getting overwhelmed diminish, and your chances of keeping your behavior changes through the year increase greatly.
If you’ve found your New Year’s resolutions have been a flop in the past, try these three tactics for a healthier 2015. If you’re still struggling in the new year, get an expert opinion by talking to your doctor. Don’t have one? Find a doc here.