Ten Ways To Achieve Your New Year’s Resolutions by Rob Ewing
The first day of the year is always a great day of hope, filled with resolutions for change and for success. Most of America comes up with a list of items they want to change and to improve upon and believe they have the willpower to be accountable and successful. However, according to research done by the University of Scranton in 2013, only 8% of people are successful in year-long change.
The top 10 resolutions according to the same study are as follows:
1. Lose Weight
2. Get Organized
3. Spend Less Money, Save More
4. Enjoy Life to the Fullest
5. Stay Fit and Healthy
6. Learn Something Exciting
7. Quit Smoking
8. Help Others in Achieving their Dreams
9. Fall in Love
10. Spend More Time with Family
As you can tell, a majority of these center on health and health objectives. “Losing weight” is most likely included in a majority of your resolution lists, or you know someone close to you that is probably trying to lose some extra pounds. Tied close to this is “Stay Fit and Healthy”, suggesting that for those of you who have attained fitness, it is important to keep it. Additionally, enjoying life to the fullest is closely tied to having the health required to do so. Quitting smoking is also considered a health activity just by the subtraction of a negative health behavior.
Most of these seem attainable for the majority of Americans and yet you find that through the first week only 75% of people are able to keep their resolutions. That means a quarter of all people who try to be better quit in week 1 of 52. That is a paltry 1.9% of the year.
Worse yet, only 64% of people last a full month, or 8.3% of the year. To put this in even greater perspective, that means if everyone in America was trying to be better (which is sadly, not the case…) that after one month, over 114,804,000 people quit whatever it was that they were trying to be better at. After one month, they gave up on being healthy, gave up on being successful, or gave up on trying something new.
It is pretty sobering to think that as a nation, we don’t have the willpower to even last a month doing something important to us.
So with that said, how do we improve on that statistic or help someone achieve something GREAT?
With the perspective being shifted to fitness related goals you can do a variety of things that will help you achieve success. (You are not limited to these items, but they will surely help you!)
1. Try something new WITH A FRIEND. When you try something on your own vs. trying something with someone to keep you accountable, you are more than twice as likely to fail to continue your behavior. Also, when you are working on something with someone you will feel their support in addition to your own ambition and are less likely to fail.
2. Inform your romantic partner of what you are trying. Romantic partners who inform their partner of attempted behavior change are more likely to succeed when trying to alter their behavior. When this is a health behavior, this improves the way both partners feel about it, and it also improves communication about achieving that goal. (A fun side portion of this is that it will also help your partner succeed on any improvement they are trying.)
3. Document your goals and keep an active and up to date log. When you want to stay on top of your goals and how you are doing, you are better off keeping a detailed log, rather than guessing your success. If you are trying to lose weight and you find that your behavior isn’t actually helping you do that, you are then able to self correct easier if you are charting what you are doing. Also, being honest with yourself is a good way to see what your actual behavior is, as compared to your self-reported behavior. You would be surprised to see how many people are consuming sugar they are not aware of, or extra calories that they can’t account for.
4. Choose goals that are possible. If I choose the goal to gain 40 lbs of muscle in a month, I will fail because it is not a feasible goal without the help of PEDs. This is something that no matter how hard I try, I will not attain. If I was to choose the goal of 1-2 lbs of muscle this month, that is much easier to achieve based on a gradual lifestyle change.
5. Don’t quit when you mess up once. Just because you ate a chocolate chip cookie when you weren’t supposed to doesn’t mean that you need to give up on the resolution to eat fewer cookies. You just need to take a step back, note that you messed up, and keep on track to your end goal.
6. Visualize what your journey will look like. Before you start, take a second to think about where you are at (Honestly), how it will look in the middle, and how the end result will actually be. This will help keep your expectations rooted with reality and will ultimately help you achieve your goal.
7. Believe you can achieve your goal. According to the Theory of Planned Behavior, a big predictor of behavioral change success is belief in the self-efficacy of your actions. To put it another way, if you believe you have direct control of your actions and the resulting behavior, you are more likely to succeed in changing it. If you don’t believe that your actions will result in change, then you are more likely to give up. (Why do something if you don’t think it will help you?)
8. Plan your surroundings to support your goal. Another part of the Theory of Planned Behavior is that your direct surroundings are highly influential on whether or not you continue a learned behavior or if you can facilitate a new behavior change. More specifically, if you have surroundings or people around you that are preventing change by giving you access to all of the things that caused the problem in the first place, you are more likely to fail. If you are able to remove the junk food (or other negative stimulus), you are then able to alter your eating behavior easier.
9. Be specific about the results you are hoping to achieve. Similar to a resume, don’t say that you sold items, say that you sold $150,000 of product. When you specify that you want to lose 10lbs or change your body composition to be 14% body fat, you will do much better than just saying you would like to lose weight. A vague goal begets vague results.
10. Focus on ONE goal. The best way to stay on track is to focus on one goal. Rather than fragmenting your willpower in multiple different directions, focus on achieving one major change and see how you do. If you find that you are able to do one easily, feel free to add to it!
The biggest take away for New Year’s resolution success is to treat it like a gradual process that you can adapt as you grow and learn. Just because you start with a certain goal doesn’t mean that you can’t end the year with an entirely different goal. As long as you attack each goal with passion and the tips mentioned above, you can end the year successfully.
Habit forming is a constant struggle, despite the 21-day myth that continues to permeate social psychology. You must learn to deal with adversity if you are to succeed on your New Year’s Resolutions, and should treat each day like its own battle with its own struggles. If you can make it to 6-months, you most likely will last a year. (Over 46% of people manage to make an actual lifestyle change if they make it to 6 months.)
For more in-depth reading, check out these posts:
1. Tip #1: Try Something With a Friend
2. Tip #2: Tell Your Romantic Partner
3. Tip #3: Document Your Goals