Making New Year’s resolutions that stick

It’s been said the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.

And yet, year after year, we make New Year’s resolutions – often the same ones! – and within weeks or months, 98% of the resolutions fail. Or, more accurately, we fail to follow through on them.

One thing specialists who understand human behavior know is that resolutions that are too broad or too vague are doomed to fail. For instance, “I resolve to lose XX pounds this year" or “I resolve to balance my budget" are mostly wishful thinking, assuming that willpower alone will help you achieve what you’re hoping for. What’s missing is a plan or roadmap to help make it happen.

The key is to go beyond wishful thinking and implement strategies to guide and inspire you:

  1. Make resolutions specific, measurable and achievable in a short time frame: For example, “I will lose 10 pounds by March 1 by walking an hour a day and cutting out fried foods and desserts."
  2. Make resolutions that are small and simple and tackle one at a time: Wanting to lose weight, balance your budget and write a book, all at the same time, is too unfocused and bound to fail. Choose one, break it down, be specific, and when you’ve succeeded, move on to your next resolution.
  3. Reward yourself: Being compared to a dog is probably the last thing any of us wants to hear! But there’s a lesson in how we treat our furry friends. When we train them and they successfully complete a task, we reward them to reinforce their behavior. We can benefit from the same strategy – if you succeed in your resolution, or reach the first of many set milestones, reward yourself with a gift, a night out, a day off, a self-high-five – anything that will motivate you for the next hill you’re climbing.
  4. Find a partner in crime: Changing your habits and behaviours is hard – which is why you’re still resolving to change them! Team up with a friend or family member who has the same or even a different challenge they’re tackling. Check in with each other, provide encouragement when they do well and a little tough love when they fall behind.

This New Year’s, try this 4-step strategy and we suspect you’ll have at least one less resolution to tackle for next year. And, as always, please share your thoughts and ideas in the Shop Talk blog community forum.

Did you know: You’re not alone

54% of us give up on our resolutions within 6 months and only 8% succeed by the end of the year.  (Source)

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