6 Tips to Keep Your New Year’s Resolutions

New Year's Resolutions

Do you have any New Year’s resolutions? If you do, you’re not alone!

Millions of people resolve to change something about their lives at the start of every year. In fact, New Year’s Eve is often filled with the very revelry they intend to avoid starting on that first day of January. The person who wants to diet will eat a whole bag of chips while they watch the ball drop, and the person who wants to stop smoking will finish off their last pack.

Why choose to start something on New Year’s Day when you could easily start that same behavior at any point during the year? There is a “fresh start” effect that motivates behavior. The new year feels like a new beginning in so many ways, and that can prompt someone to want to make changes.

And people tend to want change they can actually see, which explains why the top resolutions focus on physical health, weight loss, and eating habits[1]. In addition to these top three, other popular resolutions include quitting smoking, improving finances, and spending more quality time with family.

The problem is that in most cases, diving right into a full-scale habit change won’t work. Once you understand that, you can find much better success with your goals.

How many people actually meet their goals? While some studies say that only a measly 12% of us meet our resolution goals, other studies found that those who set resolutions were 10 times more likely to actually make good on behavioral changes[2][3]. The approach you choose to take matters, as does your support system. One study found that those who had active support in achieving their goals saw a 55% success rate. And those who chose resolutions that required them to start something, such as promising themselves to exercise every day, were much more successful in keeping those resolutions than those who looked to a goal of stopping something, such as quitting smoking.

So what does it take to keep those resolutions past the first few weeks? There are some tried-and-true tips that can help you get there.

1.       Clearly Define Your Goal                   

When you resolve to “exercise more often,” what does that really mean? When you have a vague idea in mind, you can move the goalposts as often as you want. One week it might mean you are exercising every day. Another week might mean you are exercising only two days a week, because that’s “more” than you were doing before the resolution began.

A better way to ensure you meet your resolutions is to make it clear: You intend to exercise five days a week for 30 minutes a day.

To be consistent, clearly define what your goals are. If you want to be safer at home, define your goal as implementing aging in place solutions, then go further to make it actionable. For instance, you might make a list of ways to incorporate those solutions into your home: Buy a medical alert pendant. Install grab bars in the bathroom. Add task lighting to the kitchen. Add a railing to the steps out back.

2.       Choose Only One Big Goal

A problem many run into with any sort of resolution is doing too much. While losing weight and exercising more can go hand in hand, creating a goal for both of them might do more harm than good. For example, exercising can help you build muscle, which could actually increase your weight! Though you are healthier, you aren’t meeting the goal of losing weight, and then you might feel as though all your resolutions are failing.

The American Psychological Association points out that focusing on one thing at a time promotes more success with that one thing. So this year, be laser-focused on one particular goal and look forward to a different goal next year.

3.       Create a Solid Plan

Having a goal is great, but you won’t get anywhere if you don’t know how to execute it. Create a plan on how you will handle the change in your behavior. Will you go to the gym in the mornings before work? Will you invest in gym equipment for your home instead? If you intend to stop smoking, how will you do that – what are the steps you will take? Ask yourself these questions and write down your answers in a notebook dedicated to your goal.

It’s also a good idea to write down the reasons why you want this resolution to stick. Understanding your reasons why you want to achieve a goal can go a long way toward keeping you on track, especially when you want to do anything but work on that goal.

4.       Break It Down Into Small Parts

Many resolutions fail because making drastic changes overnight rarely works. It takes time to build bad habits, so expect that it will take time to work your way out of them. Taking tiny steps each day to meet your goals is much better than jumping in all at once.

A good example of this is quitting smoking. Though some people can go “cold turkey” and be okay, most people cannot. They need to gradually cut back on their smoking habit. That might mean using one less cigarette each day until they are down to none. It might mean relying on therapy, patches, gum, and other methods to cut back. Those who suddenly stop smoking on New Year’s Day might feel intense cravings that undermine their goals within a matter of days or weeks.

Another example is removing clutter from your home to make it safer and help prevent falls. If you have a goal of cleaning your home thoroughly this year, you might be completely overwhelmed if you plan to clean it all at once. Small goals that you can actually see as you meet them, such as cleaning up that one bookcase in the corner or finally removing all that mail from the kitchen table can be just enough to keep you moving forward to a very attainable goal.

5.       Reach Out for Support

A strong support system can make all the difference in achieving your goals. Look to those who care about you and will hold you to your plans. Avoid those who aren’t encouraging for your journey. Some friends and family members might even be willing to join in on your resolutions, creating a buddy system that helps ensure you both stay accountable.

If you don’t have anyone in your life who can encourage you through the resolutions you set for yourself, consider talking to a professional. Counselors are more than ready to help you achieve your goals and can provide you with plenty of strategies you might not have considered. This APA locator can help you find the right counselor.

6.       Don’t Buy Into Past Failures

Have you tried to clean up your house in the past but you’ve always run out of energy? Has life taken over and kept you from meeting that goal? In that case you might have a negative approach to resolutions – you might think that you didn’t hit the mark so many times in the past, why would you possibly hit the mark now?

While that’s a valid question, the answer is simple: Don’t make the same resolutions. Rather than say “I’m going to clean up my house this year,” set smaller goals such as “I’m going to clean up that bookcase this week. Next week I’m going to organize the pantry.” Then put those goals on your calendar to set the time to do them.

And remember to write down your reasons why. This will help you keep going, especially when you start to think about past failures. If you have suffered a fall due to a cluttered home and wound up with only minor bumps and bruises, perhaps you are well aware that a fall could be worse next time. That knowledge can be enough to encourage you to get medical alert technology as you create a calendar of goals for daily cleaning and eventually, a neat and tidy home.

A Reset is Okay

Finally, remember that if you fall away from your pursuit of a New Year’s resolution, you can always get back on track. Just because you stopped following your goals for a few weeks or months doesn’t mean that all is lost! You can go right back to the resolution and start it up again, no matter where in the calendar you are. The good thing about building good habits and changing your life is that there are no limits on when you can choose to do it.

As you pursue your goals, let Alert1 be a part of keeping you safe and healthy through the year. A medical alert system with fall detection is a great way to begin. Whether you are losing weight, hitting the gym, staying in touch with family and friends more often or cleaning out those closets, a medical alarm brings affordable, round the clock peace of mind that lasts all year.