How are your new year’s resolutions going? According to this How Stuff Works article, as many as 35% of people break their new year’s resolution by the end of January. Let’s make sure your resolution lasts a lot longer.
There are many factors that can affect why you do (or don’t) keep your new year’s resolutions. Whether you made a resolution to save money, eat more meals at home or get into shape, here are ways to keep your new year’s resolutions.
Frame your new year’s resolution as a question.
Instead of simply saying, “I am going to save more money this year”, turn that statement into a question. Each day ask yourself, “Am I going to save more money today? Save money this year?” Then answer, “Yes!”
Here’s why. Eric Spangenberg, the co-author and professor in charge of a study and paper at UC Irvine that tested this technique, found that self-questioning truly did make people more likely follow through with an action or a goal. He believes it’s because when you answer yes to a question, you’ve created pressure for yourself to actually make that thing happen. There’s an obligation to make a change.
Only choose a resolution you TRULY WANT.
The only way you’ll stick to a new year’s resolution is if you are intrinsically motivated to do so. With no outside party putting a task or deadline on you, it has to be something you WANT to do. So if your parents think you should save up to buy a new car, but what you really want to do is save up for a Caribbean cruise, do the latter. You’ll much more motivated to save money for the thing you desire or achieve another goal you truly want.
Give yourself a couple of loopholes.
To prevent guilt after a new year’s resolution lapse, let yourself have very specific ways to occasionally break your resolution. For example, rather than stating you will never eat out the entire year, let yourself have set times for eating out. “I will eat out a maximum of once a week or for special occasions, like my anniversary or a friend’s birthday.”
Limit your number of new year’s resolutions.
Each year I make my new year’s resolution list, it initially has about 15 items on it. Now, let’s be real, there’s no way I can stick to 15 resolutions. That’s just too many goals to stay focused on and hold myself accountable for. Our brains simply don’t have the capacity or willpower to focus on that many tasks. Instead, it’s best to pick 2 or 3 concrete, specific resolutions and put energy into those.
Write down and visualize your new year’s goals.
To really make your new year’s resolutions happen, it’s important to keep them top of mind. Write down your new year’s resolutions and post them up somewhere you see everyday, like the fridge or bathroom mirror.
In addition, take just a minute or two everyday to close your eyes and visualize your goal coming true. Imagine yourself coming home at night to make dinner instead of eating out. Visualize yourself putting more and more money in your bank account. By creating these images in your brain, you are far more likely to make them happen. Here’s why.
According to this Huffington Post article and the research it contains on brain imagery, “Visualization works because…our brains…interpret imagery as equivalent to a real-life action”. When we visualize something happening, our brain actually creates the same types of neural pathways for making that thing happen as if we were ACTUALLY doing it. So even though you haven’t actually hit the gym, applied for that credit card or made that healthy meal, your body will be primed to do so after visualizing it.
Have someone hold you accountable.
If new year’s resolutions are truly hard for you to stick to, also tell one or two people who can hold you accountable. Have them check in every few weeks or once a month. “How’s that resolution going? Still putting away 20% of your paycheck each month? Still hitting the gym at least 3 times a week?”
You’ll feel so good when the answer is YES.
Featured Image Photo Credit Goes to Viktor Hanacek of Pic Jumbo