How to make New Year’s resolutions stick

How to make New Year’s resolutions stick

By Dear Molly

All right, roll on 2021 – a year which hopefully delivers a few less surprises than the one that came before it.

As we close the chapter on 2020, however, chances are you have some resolutions in mind - whether that’s working off that COVID-inspired waistline, cutting back on the evening wines or mastering the second language you commenced back in lockdown all those months ago.

But what’s the art to making a resolution then seeing it to fruition? Because as sound as those resolutions may seem right now, come February, many of them will have fallen by the wayside.

The resolution reality

If you’ve ever made a resolution but found the new year impetus quickly fades, statistics indicate you’re far from alone.

According to Forbes, less than 25 per cent of people stay true to their resolutions after 30 days, and only eight per cent accomplish them at all.

That’s a grim statistic to kick off with, but we resolve we’ll make you feel a little better about it shortly.

The reason resolutions so often get cast aside is that we’re all-encompassing in how we approach them, rather than breaking them into actionable goals.

So, with that in mind, here are five tips to make your resolution a reality…

Dream big

According to Harvard Business Review, people should absolutely shoot for the stars when it comes to making a resolution.

After all, setting goals lets us aspire to meaningful change in our life, whether that’s getting fit, landing a dream job, quitting smoking or better managing that work/life balance.

But then it’s about breaking it down into actionable steps that can actually be achieved.

Actionable steps

While the dream might be to get fit in 2021, the actionable steps are small milestones that can readily be achieved. That might initially involve setting aside a small period of time to exercise each day in the knowledge it takes 30 days to form a habit.

The dream is fitness, the action is 30 minutes today.

A little forgiveness

One of the biggest problems with resolutions is that it’s an all or nothing approach. If you happen to fall off the bandwagon or fail to hit your target, the whole resolution is discarded.

As my grandmother would say, “don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater”, which in this case means give yourself room to maneuvre in order to establish a new habit.

Know the why

This question sounds simple, but habits can be rooted in deeply entrenched thoughts and behaviour that can be truly tricky to break.

Why would you like to liberate yourself from something and take a different path? Understanding the many levels of why you want to make a change allows you to formulate the arguments that you will need to use later when your resolve starts to fade.

And if it’s likely to help, write these reasons down, along with the barriers that might get in your way.

A little forgiveness

Didn’t make it to the gym this morning? Big deal. Had a sneaky ciggie? OK, now move along. Basically, this speaks to the science of marginal gains, and acknowledges small actions add up to major shifts over an extended period of time, so don’t sweat the one-off infringement.

Instead consider the trigger, devise a way around it next time, then build a bridge, and get the hell over it.

A welcome reward

What will be your reward for achieving your resolution? That final reward might be large, but how will you recognise your achievements along the way.

Progress should also be rewarded, so set yourself minor milestones where you recognise the steps you have achieved.

What are your resolutions for 2021?

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