How to Make Your New Year's Resolutions and Health Goals Stick
The New Year gives us a chance to make a fresh start. While the New Year and our goals around it can inspire and uplift us, they can also be sources of stress and self-criticism when things don’t manifest the way we planned.
For many different reasons, New Year’s resolutions are notoriously hard to stick to. We all struggle to some degree with issues of willpower and self-control, especially surrounding diet and lifestyle. But with a few simple strategies, you can find greater success and momentum on your goals heading into the New Year.
New Year’s Resolution Tips to Help You Achieve Results
No matter your resolution for 2022, here are some tips to help you see results.
1. Own Your Goal
Check in with yourself and decide what is the most important to you. What drives you? What brings you happiness? What is upsetting to you? Satisfaction in life goes hand in hand with your long-term health, so decide what makes you feel fulfilled. You’ll be much more likely to stick with it if the goal is something you actually want rather than someone else.
2. Start Small and Celebrate
Breaking up your goals into smaller, manageable steps, helps you find success sooner and keeps you motivated rather than overwhelmed and discouraged. Many people do better with self-control when their goals are gradually scaled upward, like a muscle that gets exercised. If you stray from your program or path, don’t give up! You can always start again. It’s essential to be compassionate and patient with yourself, and reward yourself for your efforts.
3. Manage Stress
Stress and anxiety can deplete energy, willpower, and motivation. In fact, human willpower can’t stand up very well to stress, and we run the risk of repeating our unhealthy habits. Finding natural, healthy ways to reduce stress and increase your resilience will help you weather the ups and downs that could otherwise detract from your momentum.
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4. Start Early
Research shows that willpower goes down throughout the day, like a car running out of fuel. The morning is when will power and self-discipline is strongest, but by evening, many people have lost a good portion of self-control for the day. Whatever your goals and resolutions are, you’ll find greater success if you tackle them earlier in the day.1
5. Stay Full
Making sure to keep your body sustained and full with healthy, fiber-rich snacks, is key to achieving your weight goals. This will help keep blood sugar levels steady and stable, avoiding the sugar rushes and crashes that can leave you fatigued and drain your willpower. Small, high-energy snacks with lean protein, complex carbs, fiber and healthy fats can keep your body fueled and energized so that you have enough power to achieve your goals. It is estimated that practicing willpower and self-discipline can take up the biggest portion of your brain’s energy reserves.2 Furthermore, studies have shown a direct link between low blood sugar and impaired willpower. By choosing healthy snacks, you can keep your glucose and your motivation levels steady.
6. Tell a Friend
By sharing your goals and plans with a trusted friend or relative, you can benefit from “power in numbers.” The motivation and support, along with the accountability, is essential for bolstering and supporting your efforts from all sides. Plus, it makes it more fun!
The quiet of the winter season offers time for self-care, meditation and goal-setting. By taking time to check in and center yourself, and decide what is most important to you, you’re already on the path to a fresh new chapter.
- Francis Z, Mata J, Flückiger L, Job V. Morning resolutions, evening disillusions: Theories of willpower affect how health behaviours change across the day. European Journal of Personality. 2021;35(3):398-415.
- Catarina Lino, MAPP. The Psychology of Willpower: Training the Brain for Better Decisions. Positive Psychology website. Updated 7.12.21. Accessed 12.20.21.
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