New Year’s resolutions are infamously tough to keep. According to Dr. Fran Walfish we give up on them because we tend to chose the most challenging issues to overcome, or their “Achilles heel,” issues “that require ongoing guidance and support.”
“You can't simply decide to change without a long-term plan and safety net in place," Dr. Walfish says. "Most people set the resolutions at January 1st and fall off the wagon within the first few weeks of the New Year.”
In fact, one survey found that after one week, 30 percent of us have already thrown in the towel, and by the end of January almost half of us will have fell off the bandwagon.
This year, be one of the few who actually stick with it. Here’s how to stay strong throughout the year.
1. Ask Yourself ‘Why Am I Doing This?’
In order to change our lives, we have to really want it — and have good reason for doing it. New Year’s resolutions are no different. Life coach Gloria Mitchell recommends reminding ourselves everyday of the bigger purpose our resolutions serves.
“A good tip for keeping a New Year’s resolution is to tie it strongly to a why and repeat the New Year’s resolution and the ‘why’ every morning,” says Mitchell. “Example: ‘I workout every day so that I will be around long enough to see my grandchildren.’” Another more immediate one may be, “I’m drinking more water so I have more energy to meet this deadline later today.”
2. Write It Down and Visualize Success
“Start by putting your resolution in writing,” says Karin Ulik, a life coach. “You may even want to include aspirational images. Be as detailed as possible. Then spend five minutes each morning visualizing yourself achieving it. Use the power of your mind to paint the picture right down to how you will feel as it's happening. You’ll know it’s working when you experience the anticipation and excitement that happens when you’re successful at something, or when you’re doing something that you really love.”
3. Your Brain Will Make It A Habit It If You Do It Enough
Once we commit to change we may want to see the results right away. But fitness coach Laurent Amzallag reminds us that altering our lifestyles is a long-term process. That said, our resolutions should get easier to maintain over time as our brains acclimate to new regimens.
“Every time you repeat something — good or bad — you are actually helping your brain create neural pathways,” says Amzallag. “Do you ever think about brushing your teeth at night? Not anymore because you have done it for so long that it has become automatic.”
The same can happen with our New Year’s resolutions, so long as we keep up the good work!