How to Make a New Year’s Resolution that Sticks

December 30, 2018

First and foremost, I am not usually the type of person to make any sort of New Year’s resolution. I remember watching people every year making resolutions that they failed to keep up with by the end of month one. I don’t know if it’s the pressure of putting a start date on a major change that’s the problem, or if it’s just because it’s in our human nature to resist change. Whatever it is, it put me off from making New Year’s resolutions for years. Anytime I wanted to make a change I would just do it. Even if it was in the middle of September on a Wednesday.

But in January 2017 I decided to make a “New Year’s Resolution.”

It was out of my character to do but I did it anyway and I stuck with it. My resolution was to start working out consistently. I was going to restart my gym membership and go 5 days a week. And I did it. To this day working out continues to be a big part of my life.

So how was I able to make a New Year’s resolution and actually stick to it?

I didn’t think of it as a New Year’s Resolution.

Even though that’s exactly what it was. But I knew that if I thought of it that way I wouldn’t take it seriously because past experience has taught me not to. No. What made this different from the resolutions that I saw everyone else making is that I didn’t put an impending date on it. I didn’t make it out to be some big deal. In my head I justified it as “I’ve decided to make a life change that just so happens to fall on the beginning of a new year.”

Doing that took a lot of the pressure off. I could join a gym and start going without feeling like I failed myself if I ended up missing a few days. I think it’s that feeling of failure after you give in to whatever habit you were trying to break that causes people to give up on their resolutions. So don’t think that if you mess up once you’re done or that you have to start all over. Just pick up where you left off and it will be much easier to stick to your resolution.

I made my goal time oriented and attainable.

I talk about the importance of making time oriented and attainable goals in a previous post on how I stay motivated to work out. Most people when they make a New Year’s resolution they say what they’re going to do but not how they’re going to do it. For instance, someone might say “I’m going to start eating healthier,” or “I’m going to quit smoking.” And these aren’t bad resolutions. But they won’t stick if you don’t have a plan to accomplish that goal.

The person who wants to start eating healthier should do research on meal prepping and create a calendar for which days they’re going to make their food. They should create a weekly or monthly grocery list that they go by every time they go shopping. They should decide when and if they’re going to go out to eat for a not so healthy meal.

The person who wants to quit smoking should decide how many cigarettes they will allow themselves to smoke for the first couple of weeks. Then they should lower that number for the next couple of weeks and so on. They should also keep a tracker so that they don’t go past whatever maximum number that they set. I think you see where I’m going here.

My plan consisted of going to the gym Monday through Friday right after work for at least an hour. I decided on what I was going to work on each day up to the exact sets and reps. I didn’t want to give myself any excuses and it worked.

When you have a plan you’re going to be more likely to stick to the resolution.

I gave myself an end goal.

Sure having a plan to start may be enough for some people but I knew that I also needed an end goal to look forward to. So not only did I say to myself that I was going to start working out and come up with a plan on how I was going to do it. I also told myself that I would reach a weight of 130 lbs by my birthday. That way I would have something very specific to work towards and get excited about.

Remember, not every end goal will look the same. Maybe yours will be to work your way up to eating only healthy meals 5 days out of the week. Or to pay all of your bills on time for 6 months straight. Or to have gone on 3 vacations within the next 3 months. No matter what the end goal is make sure it’s something you’re excited about. If you don’t have an end goal or if that goal doesn’t excite you then you shouldn’t be surprised if you find yourself caring less and less about the resolution that you made a month ago.

So go ahead and get started on those resolutions. And if the New Year’s already started by the time you’re reading this don’t let that stop you. If it’s any consolation, I started my resolution January 10, 2017.

It was on a Tuesday.

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Hi, I'm Jazmin. If you’re ready to get serious about your health and wellness then you’ve come to the right place!