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10 Tips for Following Through on Your New Year's Resolution

Wanting to make sure you succeed in achieving your goals that you made the beginning of the year, but not sure how?

Many of us do it this time of year: make New Year’s Resolutions. That part is easy. The hard part? Actually sticking to your goals. According to research, a whopping 92 percent of people don’t succeed with their resolutions. Although that number looks bleak, it is possible to achieve success in reaching your resolutions with the right mindset and some helpful tips to ensure that you become a part of that illustrious 8 percent of people who prosper.

Start Off with Realistic Resolutions

The American Psychological Association suggests starting small because goals that are too lofty or unrealistic are designed to fail. For example, if your goal is based on physical activity, don’t attempt to go from not working out at all to hitting the gym seven days a week. Rather, aim to work out three times a week and you’ll avoid feeling overwhelmed and defeated.

Be Specific

Rather than making vague resolutions that are not clearly defined, aim for more specific, measurable, time-bound goals. Instead of saying, “I want to lose weight,” your goal could be, “I want to lose 15 pounds by August 1st of this year” or “I want to lift weights for 30 minutes a day three days a week.”

Go Public

Telling others about your resolutions, whether it be just a handful of people who are aware of your goals or a huge network of people (think everyone you know on social media), is crucial to accomplishing your goals. Although you may feel a little vulnerable sharing something personal, you’ll be much more successful after publicizing your resolutions.

Enlist a Buddy to Hold You Accountable

One aspect of going public is telling the right person or people. Vocalize your resolutions, including details, to a close, trusted friend or relative. Ask that person to check in with you periodically to see how you’re doing with your progress. Having someone to answer to increases the likelihood that you will stick with it.

Plan Ahead

Once a week, plan out your upcoming week to ensure success. What specific steps do you need to take to make sure you stick to your goals? If you need to pre-prep your weekly meals all in one day, do so. Do you need to plan out your healthy snacks in order to stop yourself from giving in to tempting office treats? Plan your snack menu. Perhaps in the past you’ve been prone to stopping through a drive-through because you got hungry on the road? If so, pack some shelf-stable healthy snacks to stash in your car.

Keep Track of Your Progress

If it’s measurable, you can change it. Tracking your progress allows you to have ongoing visible motivation at your fingertips. There are several phone apps that allow you to track your food intake and exercise habits, or you could do it the old-fashioned way and get out the pen and paper. Tracking your progress may also help you see patterns that might otherwise go unnoticed, such as taking in too many calories at dinner, drinking too many high-calorie beverages, or going over on your calorie goal only on the weekends.

Adjust Your Goals

As you progress, reflect on your goals to see if you need to tweak them a bit or add more details. Establishing and continuing certain behavioral changes requires flexibility and self-reflection.

Don’t Let a Slip-Up Cause You to Give Up

You are human, and therefore, not perfect. You may have a lapse or two, but it's important to dust yourself off and get back into your healthy routine to avoid having one lapse turn into a complete relapse into old habits. I like to suggest the “80/20 Rule” which stresses that you remain diligent in strictly sticking to your goal eighty percent of the time, and allow yourself some flexibility twenty percent of the time. Saying you will never eat chocolate again is not only unrealistic, it may also backfire, making you give into your chocolate cravings more. Feeling as though something is “off-limits” may lead to intense cravings and subsequent binges. If chocolate is something you feel has hindered your weight-loss efforts, resolve to have just one piece of chocolate per week.

Celebrate Success Along the Way

To maintain momentum, it is key that you reward yourself along the way for small victories. If your goal is to lose 30 pounds, celebrate 5-pound weight-loss increments to maintain motivation. Celebrating small victories over time leads to big success in the long run.

Reward Yourself with Non-Food Items

Unfortunately, food has been used as a reward since the dawn of time, but it's detrimental to use food as either a motivating factor or a reward because it can lead to an unhealthy relationship with food. You also don’t want the reward to undermine the goal. Instead, to celebrate small victories along the way, treat yourself to a massage or pedicure, or buy yourself a new book you’ve been wanting.

[Image via Shutterstock]

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