By Olivia Franse
Starting on January 1st, most people make a list of things they want to accomplish or positive habits they want to develop (or stop). You know the drill – go to the gym, eat healthier, save money, learn a language or instrument, etc. Most people also know how this will end, and the answer is: not great.
In one study, the University of Scranton’s Department of Psychology followed 200 New Year’s resolvers over two years and found that while 77% of people stuck with their New Year’s resolution for at least a week, only 19% of those people actually were successful at integrating the resolution into their lives for the two years. Most of the group that was successful had at least a dozen “slips.”
Obviously, 19% is not a very good statistic. What can be done to raise it? Below are some tips on how to successfully implement your New Year’s resolution and sustain it. I will primarily focus on exercising/going to the gym just as an example because it is such a popular goal.
1 | Don’t Set the Bar Too High
If your resolution is to lose weight, it’s important to not have the expectation of losing twenty pounds in a week. Most importantly, don’t give up at the end of that week – even if you’ve gained weight! Just like all other things in your life, it takes time to get into the habit of exercising and eating right. Don’t expect yourself to be great at something when you’ve only just started.
2 | Set Realistic Goals
This goes with number one. It’s important to start slowly and work your way up. If your goal was to be able to run a marathon, don’t give up when you feel like dying after mile two. It wouldn’t be a very good goal if you could already do it!
3 | Be Specific
If your New Year’s resolution is to go to the gym, don’t just say, “This year, I’m going to go to the gym.” You’ll end up procrastinating until next year rolls around! Instead, say, “This year, I’m going to work out for at least half an hour every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.”
4 | Incorporate the Goal Into Your Routine
If your resolution is to exercise more, don’t say you’re going to go to the gym if you know you aren’t going to actually go to the gym. If you live too far or just don’t have time in your day, it is never going to happen. You might go once or twice, but soon it will just be an inconvenience. Choose something that you could do without drastically altering your daily schedule. Instead of driving somewhere, bike or walk to your destination. If you are waiting in line at Starbucks or even just standing in front of your closet, try jogging in place. Even though it will only be for a short while, if you do it often enough, these little things add up!
5 | Partner Up
An English study surveyed women and found that 64% of them were more likely to push their workouts to the limit if they trained with their best friends. Additionally, 40% of fitness course participants drop out soon after it begins if they attend on their own; however, if they work out with a friend, the dropout percentage is only 6%.
While I live too far away from my friends to workout with them, I do have an exercise buddy. Her name is Java the Pup! Before we got her, I took about 25,000 steps per week (according to my FitBit). Now, I take nearly twice that. Spending just minutes running around outside, taking her to use the bathroom, and playing with her several times a day all add up! This is easy to incorporate into my life since she has to be taken outside anyways.
6 | Don’t Give Up
I keep saying this, but it’s the most important part. How do you achieve a goal? By actually working towards it and not quitting! It’s pretty simple. Acknowledge that there will be some days when you mess up or aren’t able to complete your goal, but don’t let that stop you. Life happens, so roll with the punches. You can do it!
Student Blog Series
If you haven’t caught up with other stories in our Student Blog Series, check out some of these recent articles.
– Believe In Yourself: 9 Tips & Tricks for Escaping Your Test Anxiety by Ana L.
– How to Choose a Career Path – Insights and Advice from Adults by Olivia F.
– Where Is Your Happiness? by Olivia F.