11 Ways to Keep Your New Year's Resolution
January 3, 2016
1. FIND YOUR YES.
January brings us all a fresh start — and a great opportunity to chase after a new goal. (Indeed, 44 percent of Americans make resolutions every year.) Problem is, on December 31st, there are so many things you’d like to do that it’s easy to make tons of resolutions (Go vegan! Run a marathon! Travel to New Zealand!) or one super-lofty one (Train for a marathon in New Zealand while eating a vegan diet.) A smarter strategy? Choose one solid, attainable resolution — and focus on making it happen, suggests Pauline Wallin, Ph.D., a clinical psychologist in Camp Hill, Pennsylvania.
2. FIND YOUR MOTIVATION.
The secret to fulfilling your resolution could be as simple as how you approach the situation, according to a new study published in the Journal of Consumer Psychology. The findings? Don't order yourself to do something; ask yourself. Yup, it’s that easy. Researchers at the University of California, Irvine scoured more than 104 studies that examined the "question-behavior effect" — or how answering a question about a certain behavior affects whether or not you'll engage in that behavior. In their analysis, researchers discovered that people were more likely to perform behaviors when asked about it. Interestingly, the effect was even more pronounced if the questions required "yes" or "no" answers, didn't involve specific time periods and supported "behavior with personal and socially accepted norms, such as eating healthy foods or volunteering," study co-author Eric R. Spangenberg noted in a press release.
3. FIND YOUR PATIENCE.
Change is hard and nobody’s perfect… so cut yourself some slack. “If you are self-critical or harsh on yourself, you're more likely to give up,” says Wallin. “When you falter (and you will), talk to yourself as you would to a child who feels defeated — encouraging but firm. Then make a plan for what your next step will be. This will help you get back into the groove.” Joseph Ferrari, Ph.D., professor of psychology at DePaul University in Chicago, agrees that staying positive is the key: “Once we feel good about something, it’s easier to see it through to the end.”
4. FIND THE BIG PICTURE.
Sometimes we need to take a step back in order to keep moving forward, says Ferrari. “It’s okay to regress; simply focus on the progress you’ve made so far, and keep your eye on the prize.” And just like Rome was not built in a day, changing a behavior doesn’t happen overnight. In fact, one study conducted at University College London found that it took people who were trying to learn new habits (such as eating more veggies or working out more) an average of 66 days before the new behavior became automatic. Remember: You’re in this to win it, so stay the course!
5. FIND YOUR COMMUNITY.
“Surround yourself with people who will encourage you and keep you motivated,” says Ferrari. Find a friend with whom you can share your progress, and use social media for support as well: “It’s easy to post your progress and get reinforcement from others.”
6. FIND YOUR POSSIBLE.
To set yourself up for success, take things step by step and create a specific plan to track your progress, says Wallin. Doing this will keep you on course, and make falling off the bandwagon a little more difficult. Ferrari also recommends taking stock in your resolutions every six months. “Reassess in June so you can have joy in July,” he says. By the time summer rolls around, you’ll be able to measure how much you have achieved and make a plan for the last half of the year.
7. FIND YOUR NOW.
Keep your resolution top of mind and try to live in the moment: Think, what could I be doing right now to help me pursue my goal? Focus on what you can do today.
8. FIND YOUR ROCKSTAR.
Retraining your habits over time can be difficult and take some adjustment — yup, there are growing pains. “If you hang in there and tolerate the discomfort, you will feel mentally stronger and more confident, which will increase your internal motivation to keep going,” says Dr. Wallin.
9. FIND YOUR HAPPY.
Willpower wearing out? Watch some Amy Schumer. Or Jimmy Fallon. Or anyone you think is hilarious. A study conducted at State University of New York at Albany found that people who viewed a funny video were better able to show restraint and willpower than a control group who rested rather than watching the comedy.
10. FIND YOUR CELEBRATION.
Give yourself a pat on the back between milestones, suggests Ferrari. Don’t wait until the finish line to recognize your success. You’ve got this!
11. FIND YOUR SOUL.
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