Ah, January 1st: the one day of the year when our slate is hypothetically wiped clean, and we can start all over again. New Year’s resolutions are incredibly popular — in fact, 40 percent of Americans report making them.
Sadly, only eight percent of Americans actually keep them. And if you’ve ever made a New Year’s resolution, you’re likely familiar with the pattern: after a month of eating and drinking too much, you feel fired up and ready to take January by storm. For the first two weeks you’re exercising every day and spending extra hours in the kitchen cooking up healthy meals, but by week three, your couch and takeout start to look a whole lot more appealing than that early morning jog and trip to the grocery store.
No matter what your New Year’s resolution is, giving up is never a good feeling — especially if the thing you resolve to do is something you desperately want to make happen in your life. But here’s the good news: with a little bit of planning, you can keep your New Year’s resolution this year. Here’s how.
Make concrete, quantifiable goals.
Resolutions like “lose weight” and “save money” are extremely popular ones — but they’re also extremely vague. If you simply resolve to eat less or spend less, reminding yourself of that might work for a little while, but it will get old fast.
Instead, make concrete goals related to these concepts. For example, “In 2019 I will run a marathon” or “In 2019 I will only go out to eat once a week.” When your goals are precise and quantifiable, you’ll be a lot more likely to stick to them.
Make a resolution you think you can keep.
While we’re all about dreaming big, the more realistic you are about your resolutions, the more likely you’ll be to stick to them. Rather than deciding you’re going to overhaul your entire life in just one year, pick one or two things that actually seem doable. For example, resolve to cook a healthy meal for your family once or twice a week, rather than telling yourself you’ll do exactly that 365 days in a row.
Find an accountability buddy.
Gretchen Rubin, author of “The Happiness Project,” created a framework for the different kinds of “tendencies” people have. If you’re someone who tends to be better at accomplishing something when someone is counting on you, you’re most likely what Rubin would call “an obliger.” That means you’re way more likely to keep your New Year’s resolution if you have someone else on board.
So if your resolution is to exercise five times a week, for example, find someone who will do that with you — a spouse, a friend, or a coworker are all great options.
If at first you don’t succeed, dust yourself off and try again.
Mistakes happen. Like, you know, an extra piece of cake at a birthday party or a missed workout on a freezing cold January morning. When and if that happens, that doesn’t mean you should give up entirely — just remind yourself that you’re human, and humans make mistakes. You can try again tomorrow.
Now get out there and make 2019 the best year ever.