Get this: Approximately 80 percent of resolutions fail by the second week of February, according to U.S. News. But that’s not said to discourage you! Experts and real people who have made resolutions work dish on just how they did it.
1. Make a month-by-month plan
“Don’t plan to do everything in January and don’t pick behaviors that are nebulous like, ‘I’m gonna start working out more.’ Instead, create a plan and add behaviors, as needed, in stages throughout the year. Habits take time to form and you may feel overwhelmed, or coerced if you overload yourself. Start with one, get comfortable with it and then add another. You can even create calendar reminders now to stay on task later.” — Laura F. Dabney, M.D., a psychiatrist in Virginia Beach, Virginia
2. Create a support system
“Like many people, I wanted to go to the gym more. However, I knew this resolution was too vague for me to stick to. So I made a specific goal of going three times per week and got my friends involved to hold each other accountable. We made a rule that we had to send each other a picture of the clock at the gym when we arrived and when we left. It activated our competitive nature and we ended up going way more than the original goal. Sticking to this resolution was one of the best things I could do for my mind and body.” — Jeff Martin, director of marketing at HealthLabs.com
3. Remember that moderation is key
“Make goals for yourself that are a bit of a stretch but attainable. People who go all out thinking they will set a goal that is extreme will fail in the long run, as those things are not sustainable. Don’t put too much weight on the idea that the new year is somehow magical or unique. It is just another day and seeing it as such can keep you clear on the fact that you can make changes anytime you want, not just this one time of year!
You should also realize that a new habit is created after about a month and maintained into your lifestyle after about 6 months. That means that the first few weeks of a new habit will likely be the hardest and times of needing some additional support.” — Kelsey M. Latimer, Ph.D., founder of Hello Goodlife, in West Palm Beach, Florida
4. Hold yourself accountable
“Last New Year’s Eve, I decided that I needed to find and stick to a hobby. I’ve always enjoyed drawing and making small comics to share with friends and family, so I decided it was time to hold myself accountable by making an Instagram profile and posting my work daily. After I started officially posting in March, I now have amassed over 100k followers and am working on creating merchandise, being in a collective book of comics and making this my full-time job!”
— Kim, creator of The Reddot Comic
5. Give yourself rewards
“Waiting too long for a break won’t work. Give yourself daily or weekly small treats versus waiting until the end of the month. And don’t implement negative reinforcements or punishments — falling off the wagon is punishment enough! Make it a positive incentive and if you don’t make your goal that day or week, give yourself a break for being human.” — Fran Walfish, Psy.D., a family and relationship psychotherapist in Beverly Hills and author of The Self-Aware Parent
6. Buy something that supports your goal
“If your resolution is to gain muscle or do more yoga, purchase one piece of equipment to add to your home gym that aids in that — like small dumbbells or yoga blocks. This way, if you can’t make it to the gym, you have no excuse! I always recommend my clients purchase a resistance band — it’s affordable, easy to store and pack while you travel and there are a wide range of full-body exercises you can benefit from. You can choose the strength and get stronger resistances as you get stronger on your fitness journey. It’s a no brainer!” — Rachel Piskin, an expert fitness trainer and co-founder of ChaiseFitness, in New York City
7. Indulge a bit
“After recognizing that I was addicted, yes addicted, to Diet Coke, I made a resolution to kick the habit of drinking it every day. But I had to be realistic. I knew that it wasn’t practical to demand I never touch the beverage again, so I separated my resolution into short-term objectives and long-term functional outcomes.
Specifically, I went cold turkey for one whole month. Because I knew that this was for a limited time, I was able to get over the temptation one day at a time. And I experienced quite a feeling of accomplishment once I saw that I successfully got through the month! I then decided on an amount of soda that I felt was reasonable per week and stuck to that rule. I felt comfortable limiting myself somewhat, as long as I could also occasionally indulge.” — Caleb Backe, a health and wellness expert for Maple Holistics
8. Know when to cool it
“Rest days, sick days, mental health days, ‘I don’t feel like it’ days and ‘my dog ate my keys’ days should be a vital part of your regimen — just like the go hard AF days. After all, these days are called life. People who pretend like they do not need them, do — no matter how many #nodaysoff hashtags they use. Humans are humans. You are not going to get over a sickness by weightlifting when you should be sleeping or resting. You are not going to feel better after the gym if you are not in a good mental state and start to associate it negatively.
Take time for you because at the end of the day, this is only for you. Your lifestyle will not suffer if you take one, two, maybe even a week off if you need to. But if you ever feel like you won’t come back, remember why you started in the first place and go back to that true driving force that wanted to make a change.” — Camila Mariana Ramon, a certified personal trainer and instructor at Flywheel studios in the Los Angeles area.