Resolve to stick with it
Sticking to a New Year’s Resolution is not always easy, but success is possible by having a strong plan and working it, say many experts.
Here are 10 suggestions that can apply to almost any resolution — whether it is related to weight, fitness, financial management or stopping destructive habits.
1. Make a commitment
“You have to truly make a commitment in your heart to change your lifestyle,” said Derik Budig, associate director at the Aberdeen YMCA. “That really has to be the top tip.”
Budig, who has worked in fitness for many years, said it is important to be clear in one’s mind that the change is desirable.
In the words of many a coach, “You have got to want it.”
2. Believe it can be done
John Norcross, professor of psychology at the University of Scranton, said in a recent Time magazine article, “There’s a lot of cynicism surrounding New Year’s resolutions and it’s unwarranted. Our research indicates that somewhere between 40 percent to 46 percent of New Year’s resolvers will be successful at six months. That’s probably a bit higher than the proportion who actually (succeed) because calling people every couple weeks (the way we did for the research) tends to help and thereby increase success. Still, the success rate is much higher than most people presume it would be for a single attempt to change behavior.”
3. Harness motivation
Psychologists talk about positive and negative motivation and both can be used to increase chances for success. Negative motivation can be guilt or disgust about a particular behavior while positive motivation can be the pull to get better and actualize one’s true self.
Often negative motivators alone will not work and tend to work best in the short term. Most people do better on positive motivators such as the willingness to get better for the sake of one’s family, says Martin Seligman, psychologist at the University of Pennsylvania.
4. Make a board
to keep you motivated
Steve Siebold, author and motivational speaker, recommends cutting out pictures of things that motivate you, paste or tape them to a board and put it somewhere visible.
“It triggers your subconscious,” he said. “But the things you put on this board have to operate within your belief system, while still pushing the boundaries a bit. You want a belief that actually means something to you. To have a board that says you want to be the president of the United States, and you have no training in government, just doesn’t make sense. So you want to be motivated, and not completely unrealistic or out of context with your life goals.”
5. Get a partner to help with your resolution
“But don’t just choose anyone,” Siebold said. “It helps to partner with someone who really makes you push yourself. If you have a friend who is doing amazing things, and they’re in your corner, it inspires you to do more. Make each other accountable and report back to them frequently.”
Budig agrees that resolutions should be shared with a friend or workout partner.
“It helps to hold each other accountable,” he said.
6. Limit the number
Most experts say it is best to stay focused on one or two resolutions. It is also best to make realistic incremental goals.
7. Get expert help
Reach out to someone to get professional help and support, said Budig.
“We hire someone to do our taxes or manage our finances, but we often don’t invest in services that help our body,” he said. “We only have one body.”
While fitness training, lifestyle counseling and other services are offered at the YMCA, there is help out there for all kinds of resolutions, he said.
There are counselors, psychologists, life coaches, pastors, dieticians and many other professionals that can help a person make desired changes, he said.
8.Try an app
For the tech savvy, there are many apps out there that can be used to monitor the progress of a resolution. One example is Lift, an app that helps identify goals, track performance and monitors progress. You can even invite your friends to join for extra encouragement to help keep you motivated. It is free.
9. Design your environment
The late Thomas Leonard, considered the founder of life coaching, said that part of success is designing one’s environment for success.
For example, if a person can not control eating chocolate, they should not have chocolate in the house. Don’t buy the chocolate. That doesn’t mean a person has to give up chocolate, but buy it only for a special occasion and only the amount that will be consumed in one sitting.
Know that there will be harder times and possible backsliding. The important thing is to get back on track as soon as a slip up occurs. Reward yourself for success.