Making New Year’s resolutions is easy. Keeping them for the next 365 days? That’s the tricky part.
But you’re not alone in the annual struggle – almost one-third of Americans have already cheated on their 2013 resolutions, according to a study conducted earlier this month by research and consulting firm YouGov .
The silver living, though, is that there are a few simple strategies to make those resolutions stickier – and help preserve your sanity in the process.
Keep your eyes on the prize. We’ve all heard the expression, “Out of sight, out of mind.” Well, the same applies to resolutions; whether it’s a gym class calendar taped to the fridge to remind you to hit up the weekly spin class or a mantra stuck to the bathroom mirror to cue positive self-talk for the day, put it out there – front and center.
Eat it like an elephant. How, you ask? One bite at a time! A large, long-term goal is great, but by breaking it into smaller pieces you get to enjoy the satisfaction of achieving each of the smaller goals. And a series of incremental accomplishments will keep you on track and make you feel good, whether or not you actually go on to accomplish your ultimate goal.
Aim for a 30-day stretch. It takes about a month to form or change a habit, if you’re focused and consistent with it. This is just a ballpark number and can vary from person to person and habit to habit, but starting with a 30-day challenge is often just the jump-start needed to form your desired routine.
“Don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good.” Heed these wise words from French philosopher Voltaire, and instead of pushing yourself to an unattainable "perfect," accept that "good" is enough. Forget the all-or-nothing mentality; aim for 75- to 80-percent, and avoid that inevitable cycle of self-loathing when you need a day off from the gym or indulge in dessert at dinner.
Think like Pavlov. We all know that following through on a resolution can take some perseverance, but a little positive conditioning can go a long way. Buy some new workout gear for the gym, plan a mini trip to keep stress levels low, or even splurge on a fancy piece of kitchen equipment to encourage more dining in. Whatever it is, celebrate your successes – and ensure future ones – by treating yourself to something that’s fun and in support of your resolution.