2021 is quickly coming to an end. We've all had our ups and downs, but the end of the year is an ideal time to take stock, reflect, and plan for the possibilities that come with the new year.
In human psychology, this is called the "fresh start effect"—the tendency toward taking action to reach a goal after the New Year or other significant events have passed. According to research published in the Journal of Clinical Psychology, those who make a list of changes for the coming year are 10 times more likely to succeed in putting their plans into action than those who don’t make any at all.
Despite this, it's estimated that only 9% of people who make New Year's resolutions actually achieve their goals–this is understandable. Obviously, setting goals is much easier than following them. So how can you follow through on plans to change for the better? You'll find an effective strategy for building New Year resolutions in this post!
Every year, millions of people resolve to "lose weight" or "get in shape" in the coming year. Instead of choosing such an ambiguous goal, be more specific. For example, you want to run your first half marathon by the end of the year—choosing something specific gives you the ability to plan better.
While you may have a long list of potential New Year's challenges, it’s better to pick just one and focus on that, rather than setting too many goals.
Tip: Achieving even small goals boosts your confidence. Having too many goals at a time can be intimidating and difficult to achieve, because it takes time to establish new behaviors.
Planning is integral to your success, so don’t wait around and set an action plan as early as possible. Failing to plan is planning to fail.
Tip: Having a detailed written plan will make it easier to follow through.
Trying to go big is a common reason why so many New Year's resolutions fail. Dramatically cutting calories, overworking yourself, or drastically changing your normal behavior are surefire ways to thwart your plans. Instead, focus on baby steps that will ultimately help you reach a larger goal.
Tip: Take it one small step at a time. There’s no need to rush the process.
If you decide to run a marathon, start by running two or three times a week. If you're trying to eat healthier, start by replacing some of your favorite unhealthy foods with more nutritious ones. While this may seem like a slow start, these small changes make it easier to stick to your new habits.
Your bad habits have probably taken years to form, so how do you expect to change them overnight? It may take longer than you would like to reach your goals, but remember that this is not a race to the finish line. Once you have made a commitment to behavior change, you will continue to work on it for the rest of your life.
Yes, you've probably heard this advice a million times, but that's because a support system really works. Having a reliable support system can help you stay motivated and keep you in check.
Explain your goals to your close friends or family and ask them to help you achieve them. Better yet, enlist the help of others by joining a group that shares your goal.
You will likely feel highly motivated to achieve your goal at the start, but once discomfort or temptation kicks in, it’ll start to feel more difficult. Once you're faced with the reality of dragging yourself to the gym at 6 a.m. or gritting your teeth with headaches from quitting smoking, your motivation to stick to the New Year's decision will likely start to dwindle. When faced with such moments, remind yourself why you’re doing what you’re doing.
75% of those who adopt New Year's resolutions lose ground within the first two months. The important thing is to power through it. You won’t always feel motivated, but doing what you have to regardless of how you feel is the only way you’ll achieve your desired result. There may be days when you relapse, and that’s okay. It won’t always be a straight line to success; just acknowledge that setbacks are part of the process and you just have to pick yourself back up.
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