How to keep your New Year’s resolutions

Three ways to stick to your goals

Cristina Di Loreto
January 15, 2015

I will go jogging along the Arno for an hour every day. I will go to the gym five days a week. I will learn to play the guitar. I will keep casa mia cleaner. I will eat less pasta and more salad.

 

How many New Year’s resolutions have you made that you haven’t kept? The words of those promises seem so simple, the actions so do-able. But the fact is, change is by no means simple. It is a highly complicated process that psychologists all over the world have long tried to understand. Human beings tend to prefer status quo, which is why instituting a major change in routine is so hard for us to implement.

 

There are effective strategies for making change, however. For example, rather than trying to introduce something new to your life and expecting it to ‘take’ immediately, focus on something you would like to stop doing this year. If there is something you really do want to add to your life, create ‘micro-goals’—steps toward the larger goal rather than trying to achieve the goal at once. Whether your goal is running a marathon, visiting more cultural sites or simply getting out and being more social, setting micro objectives is a great strategy to reach the big one, especially if you congratulate yourself for those small accomplishments. Know you need to tackle an odious task? Give yourself five minutes at it, just to get started.

 

And no matter what your goal, adding beauty to the mix can help—taking that run along the Arno, playing your favorite music while you clean the house, treating yourself to some flowers instead of that unhealthy snack.

 

Here are three ways to make New Year’s resolutions and stick to them:

 

1.      Stop a bad habit. Make a list of habits you would like to change. Choose the smallest one and avoid doing it for a few days. Then, in compensation for the habit you’ve removed, add more time for something you love.

 

2.      Set realistic ‘micro goals.’ Instead of trying to run for an hour your first day out, run for 7 or 10 minutes and gradually build up to your larger goal. Choose one day of the week for a short visit to the gym or that healthier meal, and build it into your routine.

 

3.      Give yourself five. The ‘five-minute plan’ is a powerful tool for starting a dreaded but necessary task. For example, if you have resolved to keep your house cleaner in the New Year but you can’t seem to get started, assemble the tools or equipment you need, set a timer for five minutes and begin the task. When the alarm rings, it’s up to you whether to continue—even if only for another five minutes.

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