The new year is notorious for declarations to improve one’s health. Whether this is due to our gluttony over the marathon that is the holidays or the start of a new year, it can be a powerful time for changing old habits.
But for many of us, New Year’s resolutions are grandly made and easily broken by the time February comes around. If you made a resolution to kick off 2019 in a healthy way, here are some ways to help make it stick.
1. Set goals from within. Figure out what is meaningful to you and have your resolution refl ect this. It’s important to realize your motivations and whether it is driven by what you think you should do or from a passion within. Say, for example, you want to lose weight — why do you want to lose weight? Is it because you want people to accept you? Or is it because you want to feel healthier?
2. Stick to one thing. Trying to accomplish multiple goals at once will quickly get overwhelming and likely lead to failure. Stick to one thing, master it and move on to the next. Wondering where to start? Try something focused on getting the mind and body running more effectively, like exercising, eating nutritious foods or quitting smoking.
3. Set a specifi c and realistic goal. Making a resolution to lose weight, for example, is too broad of an idea that doesn’t give you something specific to work toward or a well-defi ned path to follow. Instead, make your goal around a habit like eating one more fruit or vegetable every day or drinking one less sugary drink.
4. Set yourself up for success. Make a plan for how you will achieve your goal. In your plan, consider what reaching your goal looks like and what might stop you from getting there. Identify very specifi c steps to help you overcome any roadblocks. One step could be creating an environment that supports your goal. For example, if you want to eat more fruits and vegetables, be sure to stock up on them and place them where you can easily see them. Place foods you are trying to eat less of in the back of the cabinet or throw it out.
5. Track your progress. Once you’ve identifi ed your goal and have a plan set for how to achieve it, tracking your progress is key to success. Have a place where you can note your progress. This may be a calendar or notebook, but there are also many phone apps that can help you with this. Having a visual reminder of your progress provides additional motivation for meeting your goal.
6. Be accountable. Studies have shown that when you share your goals with others, you are twice as likely to achieve them than if you keep the goals to yourself. When you hold yourself accountable to your goals, you are communicating to your community (and to yourself) that
the goal is a priority — it’s not just something that may or may not get done. If you don’t share your goals in some way, you aren’t truly committing to them. It’s too easy to give up because it’s like they never really existed.
7. Be kind and celebrate success. Even with the best intentions, sometimes a slip occurs. It is best to acknowledge your slips, and move on. Don’t be too hard on yourself if this happens. It is a normal part of the change cycle. Similarly, celebrating successes — however small — is important to continued success. Identify ways you can applaud your progress.