Are you tired of breaking your New Year's resolutions every year? We’ve all been there - the excitement of setting a new goal, imagining a healthier, happier version of ourselves - all to give it up just weeks later.
What if this year you chose to be different? It is possible to find self-control and dedication. With these tips and a little practice, help yourself stick to your resolution this year for your best year yet!
Have you read the book Atomic Habits by James Clear? I would highly recommend adding it to your reading list this year if you have some big goals for 2022. The thing I love about this book is it’s all about making small changes every day that lead up to big results long term.
Whether you read it or not, you’re capable of focusing on the small do-able things in your day that come together to form your big-picture goal.
Maybe that small step doesn’t hit your full goal for the day, but it’s a small step in the right direction. For example, if your goal is to drink more water, start by setting a glass of water next to your bed at night, and start your day by drinking it. It’s the small things that make it easier to keep your commitment.
Planning is everything, especially when it comes to goals. I find when I don’t plan, I often miss out on hitting my goals for the day simply because I’m unprepared.
For example, it is extremely difficult for me to stick to my nutrition goals without some advanced preparation. I know that if I don’t stock my fridge with healthy foods or meal prep if needed, the next day can turn into a scramble of wanting to eat healthily but not having time to find something healthy.
So, lay everything out for yourself. Sunday night (or whatever day works for you) plan it out. Make a grocery list, go shopping, mark your workouts in your calendar, jot down what you plan to do during each workout. It makes it a whole lot easier to stay on track throughout the week if you have what you need to be successful, so all that’s left is checking it off the list.
Use Self Talk
A study at the University of Toronto found that using self-talk is incredibly powerful in your ability to utilize self-control(1). The study revealed that people are less able to manage their own behavior if self-talk is muted, limited, or truncated.
It’s important to use self-talk to encourage yourself in your journey. Remind yourself why you wanted to make your resolution in the first place. Don’t be shy in cheering yourself on along the way. You can do this, and reminding yourself that you can help you achieve it!
Find an Accountability Partner
If you're feeling a little hesitant or shy in starting to work towards your goal, find someone who can help keep you on track. Finding a friend or mentor who can encourage you, share ideas, and be the voice of reason when needed is so important.
Keep in mind the accountability partner you select makes a difference in whether you’ll stick to your goals or not. A study from the University of Georgia found that both self-control and lack thereof is contagious(2).
So, look for someone who also has a goal this year - maybe a coworker or a friend. It doesn’t have to be the same goal. But as they make progress towards their goals it will encourage you to stick to yours and vise-a-versa.
A little reward never hurts anybody! When you reward yourself for good behavior it sets up positive mental pathways that encourage you to continue. Plus, how nice is it to take time to acknowledge yourself for a job well done?
Your reward should be personal, a thing or activity you truly enjoy. But keep in mind, your reward should never undermine your progress.
So, if your goal this year is to work out more, don’t reward yourself by stopping- instead treat yourself to a coffee or smoothie, go on a day trip to the beach or mountains, or buy yourself a new pair of shoes!
Track Your Progress
Keep a journal, download an app, set up some notes in your phone - however you do it, tracking your progress can help you stay organized and mindful towards your goals.
Once again, this is a practice you’ll want to personalize. While journaling may work for some, for others it’s almost worse than working towards the resolution itself.
Find what works for you. Whether keeping a checklist, marking your calendar, or taking detailed notes - it’s key here to remember there is no one ‘right’ way to keep track of your progress, if it’s working for you that's what matters most.
Your own mental health is a powerful factor in whether you’re strong enough to practice self-control. If you’re feeling tense, it can make it more challenging to make the decisions it would be easy to make when we’re feeling more balanced.
In fact, according to a study by Providence College, it was helpful when people are feeling stressed or out of sorts, to de-stress and re-establish their cognitive control(3). In the study, they were able to find relaxation by viewing cityscapes or visiting nature.
But you could reduce stress in any way that feels right to you. Whether you take time with family (or away from family - no judgment here), make time to read, puzzle, paint, garden, spend time in the sun. Pause to take some time for yourself, reconnect, and come back to your commitment stronger than ever.
Keep it Simple
While we may have complex visions of where we’d like to be vs. where we are now, it’s important to keep in mind those visions don't’ happen overnight. It takes time, and a lot of discipline to finally see your full vision come to life.
In the here and now, it’s important to stay simple. What are some simple changes you could make to your everyday life?
When we start simple, we begin to build confidence in our own willpower and ability to accomplish what we set out for ourselves. As we connect the dots, that confidence will help us dream bigger, until eventually, we have reached our full-picture vision.
Ready to get started but don’t have a New Year’s Resolution yet? I encourage you to check out our New Year New You 2022 program. This program includes 6 practical, simple changes you can make to your life today. Choose one and let’s get the ball rolling!
1) “The voice of self-control: blocking the inner voice increases impulsive responding” National Library of Medicine, 2010 https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/20692639/ Accessed 6 January 2021
2) “Self-control, and lack of self-control, is contagious” University of Georgia, 2010 https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/01/100113172359.htm Accessed 6 January 2021
3) “When are natural and urban environments restorative? The impact of environmental compatibility on self-control restoration” Journal of Consumer Psychology https://myscp.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1016/j.jcps.2016.02.005 Accessed 6 January 2021