Nearly half of all U.S. adults make resolutions every year, but few are able to stick to them. In fact, University of Scranton researchers reported that about one-quarter throw in the towel in just a week, one-third give up within a month’s time, fewer than half of resolvers will make it to the six-month mark. That’s why waiting until January 1 may mean you’re less likely to achieve your goals.
Use the five strategies below to jump start your New Year’s resolutions and turn them into reality:
Make “SMART” Resolutions
Many well-intentioned resolvers never have a chance at being successful because their goals are pie-in-the-sky, too vague or any other number of reasons that make them unattainable. Goals should be Specific, Measurable, and Realistic and have a Specific Timeframe for completion. An example of a smart resolution would be, “I’m going to eat at least 5 servings of fruits and vegetables at least five days a week for two months.” Write your resolutions down and share them with a confidant to help you realize your goals.
Think Small for Big Results
It’s better to start with one or two simple diet substitutions that you can live with rather than trying to completely overhaul your lifestyle. Research also suggests that changing your food environment like keeping healthier choices in your pantry and fridge; avoiding clutter in the kitchen and downsizing your plates and bowls, sticking to a shopping list, can add up to significant pounds lost. Once you have accomplished the small goals, add on another. Before you know it, those small changes will equal big results.
Plan for Setbacks
Long-term success at losing weight or improving fitness is about making progress, not perfection. Everyone has setbacks, but those who get back are more likely to meet their long-term goals can bounce back after slip-ups rather than giving up. One study reported that more than half of successful resolvers had at least one diet digression and, over two years, those making resolutions have an average of 14 setbacks. The best way to move forward is to accept responsibility for one’s actions and move on. Consider it a good time to reevaluate your goals and how you plan to achieve them.
Enlist Social Support
It’s hard to eat right when a spouse or friend who sabotage your best efforts. Having the support of others’—at home, work and with friends—has consistently been shown to help individuals improve their diets. Sharing one’s goals with others’ helps to reaffirm commitment to them but it also serves as a way to gain support needed to achieve them.
Strengthen Your Willpower
The average person makes some 200 food-related decisions every day. One of the predictors of achieving and maintaining goals is to keep willpower intake to make healthier choices, when faced with options of like, a banana versus a brownie. Researchers at Florida State University have reported that one’s willpower can be strengthened by keeping blood sugar levels stable, getting adequate sleep, avoiding alcohol and not skipping meals.
Norcross JC, Mrykalo, MS, Blagys, MD. Auld lang syne: Success predictors, change processes, and self-reported outcomes of New Year’s resolvers and nonresolvers. Journal of Clinical Psychology. 2002 58(4): 397-405.