Millions of people make New Year’s resolutions each year. How many people actually keep them? I know you’re not going to be surprised when I tell you the answer to that is “Not many.”
Statistically speaking, you’re not very likely to stick to your new year’s resolution. I found different results in studies I looked at about this, but a very recent one indicates you’re likely to give up on your resolutions within the very first month. at around 17.8 days into 2022. It’s so common that January 17th is informally known as “Ditch your resolutions day”. So, do you have to go along with such a negative, fatalistic attitude?
Never fear. There is no rulebook that goes along with this type of thing. You can start over, amend your resolutions, change them completely – remember that these are pledges to yourself and to no one else.
Set the right type of goals
I’m not judging your goals, whatever they might be, and whatever their purpose. People often don’t make their resolutions specific enough or sufficiently detailed. It’s easier to walk away from goals or resolutions that are vague. Research has consistently found to be achievable goals need to be SMART – Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-Bound.
If your goal is to “lose weight”, that’s really vague. You have a better chance of success if you define it differently. “I will sign up for, and take part in, a 5k race by June of this year” or “I will log the food I eat into a diary or phone app every day for at least three months” are SMART goals or resolutions you are likely to achieve.
Frame goals and resolutions in a positive way
Language is a powerful thing. The words you choose when you speak to other people affect your relationship with them. It shouldn’t be surprising, then that the words you use when you speak to and about yourself have an impact on how you perceive yourself. When you make resolutions, the way in which you frame them can empower you with positivity and hope or discourage you with negativity and despair. Choose your words wisely.
“I resolve to stop wasting money” or “Stop eating junk food”, “Don’t go to dance clubs” or “Don’t drink so much coffee” types of thoughts or self-promises that frequently backfire because it makes people think about the thing they’re trying to avoid. Instead of negatives like “don’t” and “stop”, try framing your goal in positive language instead.
What does that mean exactly? It means you should try telling yourself the behavior you want, like “Eat apple slices and peanut butter as a healthy snack” or “Enjoy a walk in the fresh air for 15 minutes”
You want your better choices to become a habit. Most of the things we do out of habit don’t require much thinking; they’ve become second nature. It’s like your brain and your body develop an understanding of how to act or what to choose.
When I research this, I learned that it can take as short as 18 days or as long as 250 days to pick up a new routine. It depends on what you’re trying to change. Most typical new year’s resolutions or similar things require about a month to give them a fair chance.
In the scheme of things, a month isn’t very long at all.
Changes I recently made
Over about 6 months, I cut out dairy in favor of alternatives like almond milk, oat milk, soy milk, cashew milk, coconut milk … you get the picture. In November, I cut my sugar intake way down. I started trying sweeteners like monk fruit and other things I had never really tried.
I tried a lot of different protein shakes because I know I don’t ingest enough protein. Another day maybe I’ll give you a rundown on all the things I experimented with if anyone is interested.
I didn’t make formal resolutions about any of this stuff. In research I was doing for something else, information I learned cause me to think about it. I resolved to try alternatives that might be better for me. I made the resolution to try it differently several months ago. The date on the calendar was irrelevant. I can say it’s definitely been worthwhile experimentation.
Now, all of the choices I make regarding these things are automatic. My brain has gotten used to to routinely making choices that fit the adjustments I initially made very consciously. It’s easy now.
If you didn’t make New Year’s resolutions, remember that you can choose to change things about your life anytime you want to – it doesn’t have to be on a particular day of the week, a day of the month, or a month of the year.
What are your thoughts about resolutions? Are there any changes you’ve made or are considering? I’d love to hear your thoughts about anything to do with this topic or anything else on your mind. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.