How to stick to your new year resolutions


Another year has flown by and it’s nearly mid January.  It’s a new year and a new start and many of us may have excitedly declared our new year’s resolutions only for our motivation to be short-lived. A recent study conducted by the University of Scranton’s psychology department showed that 71% of those surveyed only followed through on their new year’s resolutions for the first two weeks and sadly it’s the case for many of us.

Why do so many of us break our promises and what strategies can help us to be more successful at sticking to our resolutions?

Generally most people’s New Year’s resolutions tend to revolve around themes such as:

  • Read more
  • Exercise more
  • Eat healthier
  • Learn a new language

These may sound like great resolutions but each one lacks any specificity and it’s usually the lack of specificity which can create a lack of follow through. Technically a new year’s resolution is a goal that you want to achieve and like with any goal you need to be clear on what you want your end result to be.

Below are 3 steps to make your new year’s resolution last:

1) Set a specific goal

To achieve your goal you need an end-point that you can visualise and know for sure whether or not you’re on track and when you’ve achieved it. If your goal is to read more how will you know if you’re on track? How can you monitor your progress? Learning how to visualise your resolutions in concrete terms can help you to extend beyond the two week mark.
Below are examples of how you can make your resolutions more specific so that you’re more likely to follow through:

  • Read 5 books by April  
  • Run a half marathon by July
  • Restrict chocolate to one day a week
  • Complete an online course in basic French

When we’ve set a clearly defined goal by writing it down in a way it can be measured, we’re able to know exactly when we’ve reached it and give ourselves a deadline to work towards.

2) Break it down into smaller steps

Breaking our goal into smaller manageable steps can help us to reach our larger goal.

  • If for example your goal is to read more books, maybe you will start to think of times during the day that you would like to dedicate to reading or a specific genre of books that you would like to read
  • If you want to run a marathon in July maybe you’ll start to think of the best ways to train or research which marathon you plan to take part in
  • If you plan to limit chocolate maybe you’ll want to research alternative healthy snacks you can replace chocolate with for the times you get cravings.
  • If you plan to become fluent in French maybe you will research the best apps, books or classes that will help you to achieve that goal.

When we start to break up our goal into smaller milestones that we can celebrate we’re more likely to continue taking the relevant steps towards our chosen endpoint.

3) Focus on your wins

When we’re specific and realistic about our goals we’re more likely to follow through on them rather than beat ourselves up for the moments we give into temptation which can make us want to give up altogether.

Instead of beating yourself up for limiting yourself on chocolate one week, maybe re-frame it to ‘I didn’t meet my goal this week but I’ll work towards it again next week’.  When we hold ourselves accountable for every small step we are taking and choose to focus and celebrate on our small wins along the way, we start to recognise our progress and we can become more motivated to STICK to our resolutions instead of falling at the two week hurdle.

Happy 2016!

(This article is provided courtesy of The Coaching Academy)