Sadly, most New Year’s resolutions and fitness goals begin to lose steam sometime in February. In fact, depending on where you get your numbers, 80 to 90 percent of them fail. This failure could make an awful lot of us feel badly about ourselves, but we really should cut ourselves some slack. Habits can take a long time to develop, so undoing bad ones and creating positive new ones can be very challenging.
It’s easy to make New Year’s resolutions.
The hard part is sticking to that pledge to eat better, give up smoking, get more exercise, watch less TV.
About 40 percent of Americans resolve to make fitness and health related changes in their lives, but only 8 percent achieve those goals.*
Why do so many people fail to stick to their resolutions, and what can we learn from the people who succeed? Read on to see how you can make 2021 the year where your resolutions last.
Keep it simple
Don’t try to change your entire life all at once. People who create a laundry list of resolutions are usually doomed to failure. Most of us live busy lives, with a lot of competing priorities and very little free time. Set a few practical and realistic goals, and you’ll set yourself up for success instead of failure.
Vague resolutions like “eating less” or “getting more exercise” are difficult to maintain because they aren’t measurable. Try setting specific goals like reducing your sugar intake by 25 percent or walking 30 minutes daily.
Put it on your schedule
We schedule a lot of things in our lives: doctor and dentist appointments, school meetings, conference calls, etc. By putting something on your daily calendar, you create a reminder to yourself about something important. If your health and fitness goals were important enough to you to make them resolutions, put them on your calendar. For example, you could pencil in a 30-minute walk during your weekly lunch hour or on Saturday mornings after breakfast.
Make yourself accountable
Specific goals are easy to measure. Track your progress on your calendar or in a daily diary. Another tactic? Share your goals with friends and family via Facebook or other social media. Making your resolutions public is often an effective way of holding yourself to them, while also getting some motivating social support.
Find a partner
Speaking of social support, one great way to help yourself (while also helping someone else) is to partner up. Finding a partner who shares your goals and is equally committed to achieving them is mutually beneficial. Not only are you accountable to each other, but you can motivate and support each other through the process.
Cut yourself the occasional break
None of us are perfect. Sometimes we slip up or life just gets in the way. As the one and only Vince Lombardi once said, “It isn’t whether you get knocked down, its whether you get back up.” Don’t allow temporary set-backs to knock you completely off your path and give you an excuse to give up. Simply recommit to your goals and take it one day at a time.
By being patient and practicing strategies that lead to success, you can stick to your resolutions this year, and in years to come.
And remember that you’re not alone. As we said above, you have friends and family who can help you meet your goals. You also have us. Cornerstone Clubs have spent the past two and a half decades meeting the needs of Bucks County residents looking to live healthier lives.
*University of Scranton, Journal of Clinical Psychology