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Tips From the Experts for Setting New Year’s Resolutions That Stick

Science By
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The new year holds promise and opportunities for improvement, but most peoples’ resolutions last as long as the bubbles in old champagne.

Packed gyms and salad bars in January will soon become ghost towns. Much of that is due to overambitious goal-setting, experts say. While it’s okay to dream big, it’s important to remember that the path to a goal begins with one step.

With this in mind, the American Psychological Association (APA) has provided some recommendations for the best ways to make New Year’s resolutions that last—beyond February, that is.

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“Setting small, attainable goals throughout the year, instead of a singular, overwhelming goal on Jan. 1 can help you reach whatever it is you strive for,” said psychologist Lynn Bufka in an APA press release. “Remember, it is not the extent of the change that matters, but rather the act of recognizing that lifestyle change is important and working toward it, one step at a time.”

The key here is keeping a realistic mindset about everything, from the desired goal to missteps toward that goal along the way. Given this, below are some of the APA’s recommendations for ensuring your New Year’s resolutions stick.

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Start Small

Be realistic about a goal. That means if you’re out of shape, don’t make a resolution to climb Kilimanjaro. Maybe make that next year’s goal. Instead, try setting your sights on something more attainable like a smaller peak or a challenging race.

 

Change One Behavior at a Time

Transitioning from poor habits to good habits doesn’t happen overnight because that’s not how the bad ones formed in the first place. Like developing bad habits, good habits need to be formed one at a time. Focusing on improving one habit versus five is far easier anyway.

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Talk About It

By sharing your experience with friends and family, they become aware of your progress. Talking about a problem sometimes make it less intimidating too. Consider joining a group that shares similar goals, like a workout class or fellow co-workers kicking their smoking habit.

 

 

Don’t Beat Yourself Up

While your goal is attainable, perfection is not. Humans make mistakes, and that will likely happen when sticking to your resolution. Just because you broke your diet by eating a brownie, or had a quick cigarette during a tough work day, doesn’t mean your resolution has lost its value. Resolve to recover from your mistakes, and bounce back.

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Ask for Support

By accepting help from those who care about you, your resilience is strengthened and your ability to manage stress improves as well. Having someone to share your struggles with makes those successes that much sweeter. If you feel overwhelmed or unable to meet your goals on your own, consider seeking professional help. Psychologists can offer strategies as to how to adjust your goals so that they are attainable, as well as help you change unhealthy behaviors

 

RealClearLife Staff