How to finally set New Years Resolutions that stick

person holding a green plant

Many of us make New Year’s resolutions. I for one have had lose weight on my list for the last 5 years proving sticking to resolutions is not easy. The New Year gives us a feeling of renewal. Sometimes we reflect and review areas of our lives, we think of improvements we want to make, changing a behaviour, taking on a new challenge. Unfortunately, our resolutions are often abandoned by February despite our good intentions. There are many reasons why this is the case, often our goals aren’t well planned and rely on a promise we make for the new year. We don’t necessarily examine why we have been resistant to change to date, we don’t examine our past struggles. We are often thinking too big!

I thought I would share some pointers I have read. Who knows maybe I might follow some!!

Don’t make a resolution – make goals that grow. Identify whether the goal is long or short term, having short term goals along the way makes it more achievable. A certain amount of psychological and physical planning will help sustain a goal.

Focus on gaining a sense of mastery – This can be a helpful way of achieving goals. Goals need to be broken down into small steps e.g. I want to be fit becomes I’m going to wear a Fitbit and aim for 10,000 steps a day. The breaking down of goals makes it more likely we will succeed; giant goals often led to us feeling overwhelmed and like giving up.

Plan for our impulsive tendencies – Imagine you come home lie on the sofa pick up your phone and scroll social media for hours. To plan for impulsive habits like it helps to have a ‘if- then’ plan to help you succeed. So ‘if‘ I lie on the sofa – ‘then’ I will read this book

Use your personal values for motivation – They bring more meaning to the goal. In what ways will your attempt at self-improvement help serve your values?

Check for conflicting goals – Sometimes we have goals that conflict for example if travelling is a goal and so is saving money its possible meeting both might be hard.

Ask yourself why is change important to you? Have some clarity about intention. Remind yourself of this on a daily basis, use visual notes or reminders

Know what success could mean – We tend to think that achieving goals as only bringing success but with change, relationships can also be effected. Success can come with challenges too. Focusing on potential challenges makes us ready should we experience some.

Anticipate challenges – Have some flexibility for setbacks and plan for things that could get in the way.

Create a support system to gain help from others. Get cheerleaders and encourage their goals too.

Use tech that can be helpful – There are many apps out there from tracking fitness to managing money. Use reminders, alarms, calendars and dashboards to help.

Share your plans – Get public support as it can hold you more accountable.

Give yourself compassion –  Treating yourself kindly rather than critically can help you correct mistakes, re-engage with our goals after slip ups and maintain our belief in our ability to change.

Remember goals can be set at anytime of the year

Wishing you a Happy 2023

Dr Ronina Stevens