Monday, December 31, 2018

Top 10 ways to make New Year's resolutions stick

  Another year rolls around and gyms across the country fill with newcomers. Gym regulars grouse about how the competition for the treadmills and elliptical machines has grown ten-fold, but they smile knowingly because they have seen it all before. In a month or two, the gym will be back to normal as all the New Year's resolution makers lose steam and go back to business as usual.

  Yet every year there are a few who defy the odds and keep going to the gym regularly. They stick to their resolutions. What is it that sets the resolution-keepers apart from the resolution drop-outs?

  Here are 10 ways to boost your chances of sticking to your resolutions this year.

1) Make one resolution. The biggest mistake people make at the New Year is they create a huge resolution list that even the most strong-willed would have trouble sticking to. If you create one resolution that is very important to you and accomplish that, you might find you are more willing to make changes throughout the year.

2) Make your resolution a small change that is easy to achieve. Rather than make your resolution to lose 40 pounds or work out at the gym seven days a week, make smaller goals such as cutting out sugary sodas and juices, eating more vegetables, or taking a 30-minute walk five days a week. The fastest way to end up with failed resolutions is to set goals that are unrealistic or overly challenging. By setting small goals and succeeding at those, you set the stage to create more challenging goals.

3) Find a Resolution Partner. This is someone who has the same goal you have who will team up with you to increase your odds of success. If you set an appointment to walk with a friend four mornings a week, you are going to feel a lot more guilty about standing them up than you would from skipping your solo walk.

4) Join a community or online group that will support your goals. This can be a walking club, an online weight-loss community, or any type of group that will help you stick to your resolution.

5) Find a way to make your resolution rewarding and fun. Love to dance? Make your weight-loss resolution to attend a Zumba class twice a week. Love the outdoors? Take your walk in a park or hike a trail rather than going to the gym. Quitting smoking? Take a cooking class where you can test out your reawakened taste buds.

6) Create incentives. You have the goal to lose 30 pounds because you don't want to be so tired on that trip to Italy next summer. You are quitting smoking so you can do that 5K charity run with your teen daughter you are trying to reconnect with. By connecting your behavioral change with a positive outcome, you motivate yourself to achieve it. Losing weight is not just about losing weight, it is about being able to play baseball with your son without being out of breath within 10 minutes.

7) Create goals that are about self-enrichment. Learn a new language. Take a cooking class. Learn how to scuba dive. By doing those things you have always wanted to do but have put off for years, you enrich your life. By enriching your life you will feel more motivated to reach tougher goals such as quitting smoking or losing weight.

8) Set the stage for success. If you have been drinking a little too much and want to watch that, don't stock the house full of your favorite beer or wine. If you recognize you eat too much sugar, don't buy cookies for the kids. They could use a little less sugar, too. If you feel like a daily walk is what you need, get fitted properly for a really good pair of walking sneakers.

9) Keep a journal. It's important to track your progress and reassess your goals on a regular basis. Over and over we hear that people who succeed at making real changes in their life keep track of their progress on a daily basis. This is one of the simplest ways to stay on track, yet so often it is neglected.

10) Don't make New Year's resolutions at all. The false construct of New Year's resolutions sets many people up for failure because they create this belief system that the only time you can really change things is when major dates or life events occur. You can make changes any time you want, and you are far more likely to succeed at making changes if you reset your resolution to change over and over.

  In fact, most people who are successful at quitting smoking are successful because they never gave up trying. They might quit three or four times - sometimes even more - before it sticks. The point is, when they fail they simply set a new date and try again. They don't let the pain of starting over stop them from trying one more time. And they don't wait for the New Year to roll around to try again.

  Editor's note: This article first appeared in the Capital City Free Press on December 26, 2015.

  About the author: Vera Appleyard is an author and a Vice President at Elements Behavioral Health. She has an MFA in Dramatic Writing from Tisch School of the Arts, New York University. She has worked in the addiction treatment field for 10 years and blogs about drug addiction and recovery.

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