How To Optimize Your New Year's Resolutions
Though a full sixty percent of us make New Years Resolutions, more than half will fail by the end of January! Two weeks into February, eighty percent have given up on their promise, and, at the end of the year, only 8 percent were still holding strong.
Eating healthier, losing weight, and exercising more are the three most common New Years Resolutions. Others standouts are spending less money, reading more, drinking less, learning a new hobby, or spending more time with friends and family.
So why do we so often fail to better ourselves? One early pitfall is a "false first step." You buy the gym membership and bask in the glory of your impending exercise regime, or buy the books you plan on reading over the year. Then, somehow it's the middle of March, the membership is unused, and the books are gathering dust!
Problem number one can arise from going in without a specific strategy. Unfortunately, most things you'd put in a resolution, weight loss included, probably won't just "happen" without a lot of work and a cohesive plan.Instead of going into the year with a vague idea that you're going to lose weight, it might make more sense to commit to a particular diet or program. In fact, many who have lost substantial weight on the 123Diet report that they wish they'd started it a lot sooner!
The more concrete your resolutions, the better, in any domain. Instead of planning to "write a novel," plan to write 200 words a day. Instead of planning to "clean the house," decide to put away 10 things a day. Don't just "be a better person," commit to spending one day a week volunteering or taking an anger management class!
Besides what you will do, you should also decide how and when you will do it: For example, "I will go to the gym after work every Wednesday" or "I will read daily during my morning commute."Though a change big enough to make a real difference may initially feel like a huge strain, habits tend to be far more difficult to begin than to continue. One study found that a new behavior became an automatic habit after subjects performed it consistently for as few as 18 days.
Some other subjects didn't experience this automaticity until day 254, but they all got there eventually. Thus, by next year, eating healthier might feel as easy as brushing your teeth!
Other common resolution mistakes include attempting to overhaul their whole life at once, an approach that will probably lead to burnout and discouragement. you may have better luck if you pick one or two priority areas and fully commit to them. You can always deal with the other stuff next year!
You should also make sure that the goals you set are realistically attainable. For example, it may make more sense to go to gym three times a week rather than every day, or to read two books a month rather than a book per week. Otherwise, when you fail, you might get frustrated with yourself and decide that it's no use reading or exercising at all!Psychologists also suggest using positive language to frame your resolutions. You should plan to "eat healthy food or "stick to a budget" instead of "stop eating junk food" or "spend less." You can also avoid counterproductive negative thinking by celebrating even small victories on your road to self improvement and maintaining a healthy self image throughout. In fact, the first step to keeping any resolution is believing you can really do it!Other strategies you may want to adopt are finding a friend to hold yourself accountable, building a support system or using a calendar or diary to track how frequently you engage in a healthy habit.If you're bored with the usual January fare, you could also try a more unconventional resolution like Melinda Gates' "word of the year" or making a list of interesting activities you've always wanted to do but never got around to. Always secretly wanted to go skydiving? Well, now's the time!
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