When it comes to New Year’s resolutions, we can get a little nutty. We want to run more! And spend more quality time with our family! And volunteer more! All by next week! The prospect of making so many changes is daunting – and perhaps, as a result, harder to maintain. However, there are ways to help achieve your New Year’s goals. Whatever your resolutions are, here are some tips on how to keep your new year going strong.
You know the feeling: You’re excited to start going to gym every day – but then work or family beckons. If you’re determined to go the gym one more day per week, picturing how you will handle an obstacle – like working late with a patient or settling into a new city – will help you feel less discouraged. Forbes contributor Jason Selk backs up this assertion: The first few days of adopting a new habit will be easy (he calls this the honeymoon phase), but you will inevitably hit a wall. Being able to recognize that wall is there and overcoming it will help you establish long-lasting habits.
A recent study published by the University of California noted that “multiple interventions,” a term they use when referring to introducing several new behaviors at once, can stick more effectively than introducing one at a time. Want to save more money from each paycheck? Start tracking your spending as well. The sense of accomplishment you feel from seeing your savings build will be compounded by your orderly checkbook.
For many people, the new year is a chance to kick a bad habit. It could be cutting down on sweets or quitting smoking. There’s one problem: when we try not to think of something, that’s all we end up spending our mental energy on. Psychologists refer to this as the “white bear phenomenon” and it can apply to our emotional well-being as well as our daily habits. To counter that feeling, Medium writer Max Anderson suggested adding a new behavior. For him, in his effort to quit smoking, he focused on adopting running whenever he had a craving. It was adding running to his regimen – as opposed to subtracting cigarettes – that made it easier to change his behavior.
If you want to make new habits stick, Charles Duhigg suggested focusing on the incremental, small wins. Anyone who has ever tried to increase their savings knows saving two hundred dollars per month feels less insurmountable than saving over two thousand dollars per year. Celebrate when you accomplish a smaller task. That will keep your dedication high and your momentum going.
No matter what your New Year’s resolution is, it can be daunting to make a change. However, with a few habitual changes and short-term goals, you’ll be able to keep them. Here’s to a productive 2017!