As winter is officially upon us, many of us begin to slow down in preparation for the end of one year and the start of the next. For a lot of us, it is natural to begin to reflect on the past year and think about the choices we made and the patterns we developed. Making New Year’s resolutions is a perfect opportunity for determining which of those habits we would like to keep and which ones we would like to leave behind in 2020.
This year has been a difficult year for most of us, and as we face a fresh new year, it’s a wonderful chance to remind ourselves of the things we would like to accomplish and hold onto in 2021. If you’ve created a list of new year’s resolutions in the past, chances are, you haven’t kept most, or any, of them. According to a Forbes statistic, more than 75% of people lose sight of their resolutions less than 30 days after the start of the new year. Just 8% of people keep their resolutions for the rest of the year.
So what are some things that the average person can do to make themselves more likely to stick with their resolutions?
- Keep them realistic. While it’s always great to dream big, you want to make sure your resolution is achievable in relation to your current state. For example, if you’re trying to become vegetarian in an effort to eat healthier but you’ve been eating meat three times a day for the past decade, you may want to strategize your eating plan. Rather than saying, “I’m not going to eat any meat ever again starting January 1,” consider finetuning that goal to “I’ll only eat meat on Sundays,” or “I’ll only eat meat when I’m in a restaurant.” This way, you’re still leaving yourself a margin for change, but you’re also making a step in the right direction.
- Limit the number of resolutions. Sitting down a writing a list of 10 major changes all starting on January 1 is only setting yourself up for failure. Reflect on your list, and whittle it down to one or two of them. Making even one major lifestyle change can help multiple areas of your life. For example, if you decide to focus on adding an hour of exercise to your Saturday morning, accomplishing that goal may lead you to fulfilling others, like making more friends, getting outside more, learning to try a new sport, etc.
- Develop an action plan for “failure.” It is inevitable that you are going to have a slipup while adjusting to your resolutions. If you’re trying to cut out sodas for the rest of the year, but on January 18, you give into your cravings, tell yourself you will try again the next day. Even if you “fail” in your goal to not have any sodas for the whole year, a reasonable perspective of the situation is that 364 days of being soda-free is very close to 365 days.
No matter what your goals are, remind yourself of them often. Write them on your mirror. Keep a scrap of paper in your wallet with your resolutions written down on it. Tell others about your goals, and ask someone to keep you accountable. An accountability partner is a great resource for checking up on you. Remember, 2020 has forced us to do many things we thought weren’t possible, and it is worth starting out 2021 acknowledging the strength we built over the last 12 months.