6 Ways to Make Sure You Keep Your New Years Resolution
For many of us, the start of the new year is a time for making New Year’s Resolutions. Inspired by the changing of the seasons and the promise of a fresh start, resolutions are a way to act on something we’ve always wanted to do or fulfill a dream that has been on our mind for months or years. While these aspirations are energizing and inspiring, many of us fail to bring them fully to fruition. Manifesting change can be difficult, and most people struggle to employ enough willpower to make their New Year’s Resolutions a reality.
Such a struggle is often especially difficult when changing anything having to do with our diets and lifestyles. This is evident when we look at the rise of many health issues surrounding diet and lifestyle. Metabolic syndrome, type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular concerns, and many others are skyrocketing health epidemics that have a direct correlation to diet and lifestyle.
Whether your New Year’s Resolution is to eat more fruits and vegetables, get more exercise, or simply complete an art project you’ve been dreaming about, it’s essential to harness your energy, willpower, motivation, and self-discipline—a tall order indeed.
Here are a few ways to support your success:
- Make It YOUR Goal. Living in our culture and society--where we’re constantly told to do better, be happier, and have more--our goals might become something that’s not our own. Well-meaning friends and family may also have expectations for us that don’t align with what we truly want. It’s important, then, to search inside yourself and decide what goals are most important to you (and not other people). What drives your passion? What are you deeply committed to that you want to focus on? By doing this, you can create a New Year’s Resolution that has deeper meaning for you. Since happiness and health go hand-in-hand, choosing a goal that would make you feel truly happy and fulfilled will increase the chances you’ll stick with it.
- Calm Stress. Energy, motivation, and willpower are not finite. Chronic stress and anxiety can quickly zap our strength and make it difficult to pursue goals continuously. When stress mounts, willpower can quickly crumble and our default is usually to fall back into old, unhealthy patterns we’re working hard to break out of.
Taking time to practice healthy stress relief can help create more energy and motivation, while giving us a break from overtaxing our willpower. To center yourself, try mindful meditation. Studies show this practice reduces stress and anxiety better than antidepressants. Additionally, studies show it also strengthens a part of the brain associated with self-control.
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- Work On Goals Early In The Day. Research shows that our willpower is like fuel in a car; it only lasts so long during the day before it eventually runs out. To avoid running out of ‘gas’ and losing motivation, try to focus on your New Year’s Resolutions early in the morning when willpower is at its strongest. If your goal is to eat healthy, for example, don’t wait until dinner to start—as you’ll likely lose your self-control to the dessert platter. When you work on your goals earlier in the day, your willpower will help you complete your task and give you the boost of confidence and motivation to continue.
- Stock Up On Healthy Snacks. This is an important tip regardless of whether your New Year’s Resolution has to do with losing weight. Having small, high-energy snacks on hand full of lean protein, complex carbs, and healthy fats is a key to success to keep willpower strong. Research estimates that practicing self-discipline and exercising willpower can take up the largest portion of your brain’s energy reserves. If you’re hungry or experience a drop in blood sugar levels, the tiredness you may feel doesn’t just affect your muscles and energy levels—it also affects your brain. Your willpower and motivation may quickly get zapped if your body is not properly fueled. Studies have even shown that there’s a direct link between reduced willpower and low blood sugar, so keeping your glucose levels stable can keep your motivation levels stable as well. By simply keeping a good supply of small, healthy snacks, you’ll have something on hand when you feel your energy levels dip.
- Start Small And Don’t Give Up. While it might be tempting to set your sights on a lofty goal—like climbing to the top of a mountain or completely giving up sugar—you might be setting yourself up for disappointment. Making smaller goals first and gradually building to bigger achievements can give you a better chance of sticking to and reaching your resolutions. A person who wants to be a bicyclist, for example, doesn’t start out by entering an 8-hour long race. Rather, they train by starting slowly and building up the length of their rides over a longer period of time.
It’s similar to willpower. Willpower is a muscle that must be exercised if you want to build it bigger and stronger. Studies even suggest that those who set goals for themselves that gradually scale upwards do better with self-control. So start small and slow. With practice, your confidence and motivation can build towards your goal. If you get derailed at any point, don’t give up! Every day is that chance for a new start, and treating yourself with kindness and patience may prevent you from abandoning your cause. Acknowledge the importance of the goal you’ve set, and give yourself credit for any efforts you’ve already made. Simply setting the goal is an effort in itself, so be proud of your desire to grow and change for the better.
As the new year coincides with the quiet winter months, this can be a great opportunity for self-reflection.
Take advantage of the stillness of winter and give yourself time for introspection and contemplation. Center yourself, look inside and decide what goals and dreams are most important to you. Simply carving out the time to do so means you’re already on your way to realizing your most personal and important dreams. And above all else, cultivate your inner love and compassion for yourself and others. Watch as your motivation and happiness expand from a simple New Year’s Resolution to the following months and beyond, giving you the life you most want to live.
Best wishes for a New Year filled with peace and healing!
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