When I went to college at the University of Florida, it was trendy to go jogging. It seemed to be the standard hobby of everyone I knew, except for myself. At the time, I didn’t exercise, with the exception of walking to class. But because I constantly saw runners around me, the wheels in my head began to turn, and I realized I really was not in shape. I wanted to be healthy, and I wanted to participate in the campus culture. So for my New Year’s resolution, I decided to start running.
I made the resolution, but I really doubted I could keep it. I had never before been able to keep a New Year’s resolution. But somehow I defied all odds and became a runner. Nearly nine years later, I still go for runs several times a week. I feel so much healthier, and I’m in much better shape. And to top it all off, I have a hobby I love.
How was I able to stick to my New Year’s resolution? Here are eight things I did to keep my resolution that you can do too.
1. Focus on One Resolution
Prior to my jogging resolution, I had always made resolutions in attempts to make over my life.
But if you try to change everything all at once, you end up changing nothing. You spread yourself and your focus too thin. Think of the one thing that’s the most important for you to change in your life, and make that your one resolution.
2. Plan Ahead – Not On New Year’s Eve
Many people make New Year’s resolutions on a whim, caught up in the excitement of New Year’s Eve. However, when they wake up the next morning, they either forget they made a resolution or blow it off. If you really want to change something for the upcoming year, plan early.
Also, come up with a game plan for how you’ll go about accomplishing your resolution. For example, if you want to lose weight, you need to decide on a diet and a workout routine. You could sneak workouts into your day or plan another way to exercise and be healthy while saving money.
3. Commit to 21 Days
Common wisdom holds that it takes 21 days to form a habit. If that’s the case, focus on just making it through January 21. If you were able to form the habit, great! If you decide you really dislike your resolution, at least you gave it a fair chance.
4. Take Baby Steps
Let’s say that you decide your New Year’s Resolution is to become a runner, but you’ve never run before in your life. It’s probably not wise to sign up for a half marathon for the first weekend in January. Focus instead on running for one minute per day and then add an additional minute each week. That’s what I did, and I was able to work all the way up to running half marathons.
By taking baby steps, you gain motivation from the progress you’ve made to continue to push yourself into becoming a better version of yourself.
5. Create a Rewards System
Reward yourself when you make progress. One effective reward is to take a day off. If you’re trying to eat healthier, perhaps you could eat whatever you want just one day per week. But remember, only take a reward day if you stick to your rules the other six days of the week.
6. Set Consequences
Conversely, knowing there are consequences when you don’t stick to your resolution can be a powerful motivator. For example, every time you fail to keep your resolution, you put a dollar in a “penalty jar.” As an added bonus, you’ll be saving money you can put toward other goals.
7. Don’t Burn Yourself Out
When you make a New Year’s resolution, you’re trying to change something about your life. But your New Year’s resolution shouldn’t become your whole life.
If your resolution is to start a budget, make a budget and stick to it, but don’t obsess over every little detail. Continue on with your life as it was before, but with this one addition.
Similarly, if you want to lose weight, lose weight safely. Exercising obsessively and severely restricting your diet will discourage you quickly.
8. Remember Why You Made Your Resolution
No one makes resolutions just for the fun of it. You make a resolution because there’s something in your life you need or want to change. If you focus on that reason, you’re more likely to stick with your resolution.
Use sticky notes. Put your deadline on your calendar. Write your resolution on your bathroom mirror. Do whatever you need to do to remember to become a better version of yourself. It will help you avoid procrastination as well.
This year, my resolution is to floss daily. I’m one of those people who only floss before going to the dentist. I want to be a good example for my son, and I might as well do something that’s good for me in the process.
What is your New Year’s resolution for this upcoming year, and how do you plan to keep it?
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