7 Secrets to Making your New Year’s Resolution Stick: Part 4 of a 4-Part Holiday Series

We want change to happen quickly. However, it takes time to accomplish our New Year’s goals. The following are 7 tips to help you stick with your resolutions and succeed!

Tip #1: Stick to One Thing

When you are deciding on a New Years resolution, stick to the one thing that is most important to you. Do not overwhelm yourself. When you feel overwhelmed, you get discouraged. When you get discouraged, you are more likely to quit at the first sign of difficulty. Try to relax, and stay away from any change that may be unrealistic.

Tip #2: Keep it Measurable

The best way to keep your resolution measurable is to start small. Begin by taking baby How to Make and Keep New Year's Resolutionssteps once a day. If your resolution is to hydrate, drink one more glass of water a day. If you want to stop drinking soda, start by drinking one less a day. Over time, these little changes add up to help you reach your goal. In addition, try to be mindful of your goal throughout the day. When you remember, take a micro step toward achievement. That means drinking an extra glass of water when it crosses your mind!

Tip #3: Anticipate Barriers

Before you even try to enact your resolution, make a list of the barriers you anticipate in the process. Ask yourself what self-defeating roadblocks you have encountered in past efforts. Then, ask yourself what you see as impeding your future efforts. These could sound like thoughts such as, “I don’t feel like it” or “I don’t have time”. You may also notice yourself engaging in sabotaging self-talk such as, “I deserve a break” or “I’m not motivated”. Now, write down your personal barriers. Afterward, record what you are going to do the next time this barrier rears its ugly head.

In your quest for change you are bound to hit upon the barrier of resistance. At its root, resistance is a reaction founded in fear. If you are afraid of change, you are essentially afraid of reality, because change is the essence of reality. So, why are you afraid of change?

Here are some ways to cope with the fear of change:

  • Replace negative self-talk with positive self-talk
  • Research makes fear disappear, because research gives you control
  • Practice makes perfect, so practice until you are less afraid
  • Figure out the worst possible outcome, then become okay with it
  • Nip fear of failure in the bud by becoming okay with any possible criticisms or embarrassment. Consistent failure is what leads to success.

Tip #4: Make an Advantages Card

Why do you want this? What is the benefit? There are going to be some hard times throughout your journey of change, times when you need to remind yourself of the why. Therefore, an important step in keeping your New Years resolution is making an advantages card.

An advantages card can be made of anything you want. Some people like to use a note card, while others write on mirrors or dry erase boards. The content is simple. Just make a list of all the reasons why you want to accomplish your goal. Maybe you want to lose weight to become healthier, or maybe you have a specific clothing size you want to hit.

Read your list twice a day, really reflecting on why you want to accomplish your goals. In times of extremely self-defeating thoughts, it is recommended by cognitive behavioral therapists that  you read your advantages card as needed.

Tip #5: Accept You Will Have Bumps

It is important not only to realize, but also to accept you will slip up along the way. There are instances when you will be barraged with berating thoughts and crumble under the pressure. However, do not use a mess up to engage in all or nothing thinking! When you encounter a bump in the road, do not give up! For example: when you smoke that cigarette you know you shouldn’t have, do not throw in the towel and buy a whole pack. Remember, in order to make a habit your new behaviors take a minimum of 3 weeks. Be patient and practice self-compassion, especially when you inevitably mess up!

Tip #6: Ask Someone to Hold You Accountable

This tip sounds as though it would be easy. However, it can be the most difficult, especially if you are allergic to criticism. That is why it is important to find someone you trust and respect to hold you accountable. Although you may want to fight them, you will be more likely to listen when you know they are giving advice with good intentions. A good CBT therapist hold their clients accountable by assigning homework and expecting follow-through, so don’t be afraid to seek out professional guidance if you are having difficulty finding external support.

Tip #7: Make a Plan

When you make your plan, focus on the small steps and not the goal. Instead of writing down “I will lose 20 lbs this year”, break that larger goal down into more manageable steps. This could look like, “I will drink more water” and “walk around the block each day”. After you accomplish small successes, find a way to celebrate! Don’t skip this step, because it is extremely important. When you reward yourself, your brain will remember the dopamine rush and be more willing to do your bidding.

Check out this video and worksheet from TED to give you some motivation!

Other articles in  this series: A Cognitive-Behavioral Approach to Holiday Success’

Part I: How to Keep the ‘Happy’ in your Holidays

Part 2: 4 CBT Based Tips for Overcoming Perfectionism

Part 3: 10 Ways to Ward off Loneliness this Season

 

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