As millions of Americans take part in the annual tradition of making New Year’s resolutions, many will be setting unrealistic goals that are hard to attain and will set them up for disappointment.
According to DiscoverHappyHabits.com, a 2016 study showed out of the 41% of Americans who make New Year’s resolutions, by the end of the year, only 9% feel they are successful in keeping them.
There are a few things you can do to successfully achieve your News Year’s resolutions, however, notes Dr. Britany Alexander, a psychiatrist with Kaiser Permanente, Riverside. “The desire to be our best self is the first step to real, positive change,” she adds.
Here are a few tips Dr. Alexander offers to help you make your New Year’s resolution a success:
- Choose something YOU want to change. For example, if your spouse would like nothing more than for you to take up a hobby or a sport they really like, but you have little interest in it, you will be less likely to follow through on your commitment. Make sure it’s your own personal goal.
- Keep it simple. It can be tempting to set several goals at once. After some holiday overindulgence, you might feel like giving up all alcohol, going on a diet, exercising five times per week and drinking lots of water. Those are all excellent habits. But people tend to become discouraged and quit if they miss their mark. Instead, making one or two small achievable goals can set you up for success and is ultimately more rewarding.
- Plan ahead and be consistent. Instead of saying, “I will exercise every day,” try modifying your goal to be more specific. For example, you could say, “I will exercise for 30 minutes on Monday, Wednesday, and Fridays.” And to take it a step further, make sure you have the necessary equipment available, and the time blocked off in advance, hence increasing the likelihood of reaching your goal.
- It’s OK to re-evaluate the goals you set. If no matter what you are becoming stuck in a particular area, go back and reassess. Was the goal too aggressive or not truly something you wanted to do? For example, if you set out to train for a marathon but are finding the schedule too overwhelming, perhaps consider preparing for a 5K first. Any step forward counts.
- Be kind to yourself. If you don’t quite make it today, show up again tomorrow. You are worth a second, third and fourth chance. Remember that the journey of a thousand miles begins with one step!
“The key to success in keeping your New Year’s resolution is to be realistic and take small steps,” Dr. Alexander says. “Taking too big of a leap could result in discouragement, and that could ultimately lead you away from your goals.”