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Keeping New Years' Resolutions

Psychologist Reveals Hacks to Keep Your New Year’s Resolutions

It’s that time of year again – time to make those New Year’s resolutions and swear that this is the year you’ll finally stick to them. But let’s be real; we all know how this is going to go. First, there’s the initial excitement and motivation to change. You’re going to hit the gym every day, eat healthily, and save all your money. You might even go so far as to buy a planner and schedule your daily workouts and meal plans.

But then, after about a week, reality starts to set in. You miss a day at the gym because you’re feeling a little tired, and before you know it, you’ve missed a whole week. You start making excuses for why you can’t go – you’re too busy, you have a lot of work to do, it’s too cold outside. And as for that healthy eating plan? Yeah, that goes out the window as soon as you see a tray of cookies in the break room at work. But fear not, dear reader. With some professional advice from Melbourne-based Psychologist and Headspace App Mental Health Expert, Carly Dober, we’ve put together a list of foolproof tips to help you stick to your resolutions and become the best version of yourself this year.

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Keeping New Years' Resolutions
Image: Nick David / Getty Images

10 Tips for Keeping Your New Year’s Resolutions

1. Set Specific Goals

We get it, the start of a new year is a time for big dreams and grand ambitions. But before you go setting a resolution to conquer Mount Everest or learn every language in the world, it might be helpful to take a step back and make sure your goals are realistic and specific. Instead of saying you want to “lose weight,” try setting a specific goal like “lose 10 pounds by March.” Not only is this goal more achievable, but it also gives you a clear target to work towards. And don’t forget to make your goals specific. “Exercise more” is a nice sentiment, but it’s not very helpful in terms of actually getting things done. Try setting a specific goal like “go to the gym three times a week.” The more specific and realistic your goals are, the easier it will be to stick to them and actually see some progress. So go ahead and dream big, but make sure your resolutions are grounded in reality. Your future self (and waistline) will thank you.

“Too often people can throw their resolutions in the bin when there’s not an immediate return, or life starts moving at a quick pace again,” said Dober. “Invite some flexibility into how you approach your goals, and remember that consistency is key. Be honest when making them. Ask yourself, is this what you really want or what you think you need? Goals that are meaningful to you will have a higher chance of sticking and becoming habits.”

2. Write Down Your Resolutions

If you’re anything like us, your New Year’s resolutions probably consist of things like “lose weight,” “save money,” and “learn how to do a backflip.” And just like us, you’ve probably also forgotten what those resolutions were by the time February rolls around. That’s where the power of the written word comes in. By actually taking the time to write down your resolutions, you’re setting yourself up for success. Not only does the physical act of writing something down help to solidify it in your mind, but you can also use your written resolutions as a reference throughout the year. Plus, there’s just something satisfying about crossing something off a list. So go ahead and grab a pen and paper (or open up a Google Doc) and start jotting down your goals for the new year.

3. Make A Plan

What if we told you that making a plan and breaking it down into smaller goals could actually increase your chances of success? It’s true. By breaking your resolution down into manageable chunks, you can tackle it one step at a time and avoid getting overwhelmed. Plus, it’s much more satisfying to check off smaller goals as you go along. So don’t just blindly set a big, vague resolution and hope for the best. Make a plan, break it down, and watch as you accomplish your goals one by one. Dober says that a “little every day goes a long way when making long-term and sustainable behavioural changes”.

4. Share Your Resolutions With Others

Let’s be real, most of us will probably give up on our resolutions within the first few weeks. That’s where sharing comes in. By sharing your resolutions with others, you not only get the support and accountability you need to stay on track, but you also get the added bonus of having someone to blame when you inevitably fail (kidding). Just imagine the look on your friend’s face when you say, “I know I said I was going to quit smoking, but you never reminded me to!” See? Sharing is a win-win. So go ahead and tell all your friends and family about your grand plans for self-improvement. It’ll either keep you motivated or provide endless entertainment for the rest of us.

5. Keep Track Of Your Progress

New Year, new you, right? Wrong. We all know that those pesky New Year’s resolutions have a way of falling by the wayside just a few short weeks into the new year. Tracking your resolution progress is here to save the day (or at least give you a false sense of accomplishment). By regularly checking in on your progress, you can pat yourself on the back for all the hard work you’re doing. And if you happen to slip up and fall off the resolution wagon, you’ll have a handy record to look back on and beat yourself up over. So go ahead, bust out that shiny new planner and start tracking your progress.

6. Find A Support System

New Year’s resolutions are the ultimate test of self-control and discipline. Or, at least, that’s what they’re supposed to be. In reality, they’re more like a good excuse to overindulge in all the holiday treats and then feel guilty about it later. But don’t worry; finding a support system is the answer to reaching your goals.  By enlisting the help of friends and family, you can guilt them into supporting your resolutions (and maybe even joining in). Plus, having someone to share your struggles with can make the whole resolution process a lot more bearable. So go ahead, round up a group of like-minded resolutionaries and take on the new year together. You might just surprise yourselves.

7. Reward Yourself

Every year we make grand plans for self-improvement, only to fall short and feel like failures. But what if we told you that there’s a way to turn all that resolution-related frustration into joy and delight? It’s called rewards. That’s right, by rewarding yourself for meeting your milestones you can turn the whole resolution process into one big party (kind of). Just imagine the satisfaction of treating yourself to a fancy dinner after finally quitting smoking, or buying yourself a new toy after finally saving up enough money. The possibilities are endless. So don’t deprive yourself of the little joys in life. Go ahead and reward yourself for all your hard work and maintain those motivation levels.

8. Don’t Be Too Hard On Yourself

There is a way to avoid the inevitable doom and gloom that comes with resolutions: be easy on yourself. That’s right, by not being too hard on yourself, you can actually increase your chances of success. Just think about it: if you’re constantly beating yourself up for every little slip-up, you’re more likely to give up altogether. But if you give yourself a break and allow room for error, you’ll be more likely to persevere and ultimately reach your goals. So go easy on yourself, cut yourself some slack, and enjoy the journey. After all, it’s not about being perfect; it’s about sustainable improvement.

9. Be Flexible

There is a way to avoid the disappointment and frustration that comes with resolutions: be open to change. That’s right, by being willing to adjust your goals or plans if something isn’t working for you, you can actually increase your chances of success. Just think about it: if you’re stubborn and refuse to change course, you’re more likely to give up altogether. But if you’re open to trying something new or tweaking your approach, you’ll be more likely to persevere and ultimately reach your goals.

10. Keep Your Resolutions In Perspective

Remember that your resolutions are meant to improve your life, not make it perfect. Don’t let your resolutions consume you or create unnecessary stress. If you remember that it’s just about trying to be a little bit better than you were before, you’ll be more likely to persevere and ultimately reach your goals. Enjoy the journey and have fun while working towards your goals.

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