New year, new start: New Years Resolution?
It’s that time of year again when you’re asked what new sweeping changes you’re going to make on your life in the form of a resolution. Mine is the same every year: Enjoy myself more and worry less. Whenever I tell someone I always follow it up by saying “it’s the same one every year”.
It’s got me thinking, if it’s the same every year does that mean that my resolution is working at all? Do New year resolutions work, and how can we make them better?
According to YouGov, only 48% of UK adults who made a resolution in 2020 kept some part. Here are some tips to make your new years resolution one you can actually keep.
So lets change this resolution into a more achievable goal: I want to be healthier
Get rid of the vague
It’s very easy to come out with a soundbite when someone asks what you’re planning on changing in the upcoming year. Usually, I don’t want to really think about the goal so I personally say something vague and therefore something hard to measure and obtain.
If you’re creating a resolution, make sure you’re doing it for the right reasons: don’t feel societal pressure to embark on resolutions which look good or popular, you need to be passionate about a resolution for it to be kept.
Start off by expanding your resolution as a SMART Goal – you can now measure the resolution, it has attainable goals you can measure.
Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, Time-bound
Spell out the goal in detail – I want to stop eating the chocolate bar I have every lunch
How will you measure it? – It’s easy to measure this, for other resolutions try journaling or keeping a log
Is this achievable? – Do you think you can replace this routine? You could add a healthier snack to replace the chocolate
Why does this goal matter to you? – You might want to start cutting out sweet treats
What is the timing for this goal? – Do you want to get rid of chocolate for lunch for good or a few months?
It’s easier to add something to your routine than give something up
A study authored by psychologist Professor Per Carlbring, found that resolutions which added to your lifestyle were more likely to be kept than resolutions which take away from it. In the study, around 10% more participants who created “approach-orientated” resolutions thought they had successfully kept their resolution compared to participants who created “avoidance-orientated” resolutions.
This makes sense to me – you want to enrich your life with your resolution not restrict it. So instead of saying “I’ll eat less chocolate”, lets say “I want to eat more vegetables”
It’s a marathon, not a dash to the finish line
If you’re making a resolution chances are you want to keep your resolution for the years to come, not just until the end of the year. That means you’re not just keeping a new years resolution, you’re making a habit. Charles Duhigg, author of “The Power of Habit” says “If you’re building a habit, you’re planning for the next decade, not the next couple of months.”
Your resolution is here to stay and that means you need to reform a habit and remember it’s okay to fall off the resolution along the way. Duhigg suggests a Cue, Routine, Response pattern.
Cue – The trigger you need to remind yourself of your resolution – maybe that’s going on your weekly food shop remembering to have a good stroll down the vegetable aisle, or the food-planner you made for the week full of healthy recipes.
Routine – Cooking the tried and tested recipes packed with vegetables you learnt recently and love.
Reward – A way to celebrate your habit, it could be a dessert or anything you enjoy. As this routine becomes more and more of a habit you’ll need less and less of a reward to keep up your resolution.
Let people know about your resolution, make it a public commitment and not just a private promise. Psychologist Professor John C. Norcross notes “Public commitments are generally more successful than private decisions,”.