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Wellness

Make your New Year’s resolution a success

Abigail Shiers
Abigail Shiers

Many of us will have made a healthy New Year’s resolution – maybe to lose weight, quit smoking or drink less – but what’s the best way to stick to it?

Research shows that about 60% of people make them — and that more than half of those of us who do, don’t keep them for longer than a few months.

Since the biggest fall-off seems to happen somewhere between two and six weeks post-January 1, we  thought this might be a good time to offer you some support.  (For those of you in the 40% of people who say they never make New Year’s Resolutions — view this as aid in keeping whatever self-improvement commitments you do make.)

Here’s some advice to keep you on track for a healthier, happier year:

Break It Into Smaller Pieces

Breaking down your goals into smaller pieces is the first step in keeping those new year’s resolutions. The final goal of a resolution can be so daunting that you don’t even start it but breaking that goal into manageable pieces often helps the bigger goal to take care of itself.

Take for example going to the gym. Going to the gym three times a week, every week for a year sounds really daunting. However, when you start breaking it down into smaller goals — setting up the gym membership, picking a routine, making your first trip to the gym — it seems a lot easier.

Breaking your goals down into smaller actions can work wonders, especially on days when you’re just not feeling it. For example, heading down to the gym and working out for an hour or 90 minutes might be more than you can handle after a hard day at work. But can you change into your gym clothes? Great. What about walk out to your car? Do it. Now drive to the gym. Once you get there, why do anything but get out of your car and actually work out? If that 90 minutes seems daunting, try ten, then another ten, then another.

Pretty soon you’ve accomplished your goal for the day.

Make It a Habit

While the conventional wisdom is that it takes 21 days to create a habit, the time actually varies from one person to another. However, just as you can accomplish bigger goals by accomplishing small ones, you can also form habits one day at a time.

Rather than viewing your New Year’s aspirations as “resolutions,” why not start viewing them as building a new habit? For example, if your new habit is to go to the gym before work every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. It’s not that you’re trying to lose x amount of weight by the end of the year. It’s just that this is what you are doing right now — you just go to the gym.

Free from the burden of the big and intimidating “resolution,” you’re just going to the gym three times a week.

More enjoyable, right?

But creating habits means creating the right environment for them to take root. So, do everything you can to make sure you’re going to make a habit. Get up early. Change your schedule around. Get the tools that you need to help you succeed. Whatever you need to do to make it easy for you to maintain your habit on a daily basis, start doing it now.

A problem shared is a problem halved, right?

 Why not team up with someone else in the office? Accountability partners are great for two reasons. First, if you have to report to someone every time you fail to achieve your daily goal, you’re probably going to fail less. More importantly, though, if you have someone who’s going to actively help you achieve your goals, you’re engaged with someone committed to your success.

To use our gym example again, it might be hard to head to the gym three times per week, but it’s going to be a lot easier to head out there if you’ve got someone going with you. Flaking out, then, doesn’t mean being lazy and sitting around at home — it means disrupting someone else’s routine. On days when you need that little extra push, having a partner can make all the difference in the world.

One final piece of advice on this point: Find someone who’s motivated. Accountability partners can be a double-edged sword. If you two are working toward a goal together and he’s less motivated than you are, your accountability partner can be a real drag on your progress. Find someone who matches your level of commitment, and create a plan to motivate each other to thrive.

And if all else fails, here are the five best apps for sticking to your goals.

Productive

This habit-tracking app will streamline your life by helping you decide and monitor how you spend your day, from when you choose to eat to stretching after a run.

Grid Diary

If you fancy channelling your inner Bridget Jones but don’t have the motivation to get started, this app gives you a predefined template to help you begin a diary. It asks you questions and gives you prompts so your writing feels natural and fluid.

Fit Well

Your personal trainer, dietician and mobile coach all in one. Enter your goals and this app will create a tailor-made regime for you of targeted workouts, meal plans and personal coaching reminders.

Zero Willpower

This app blocks your most distracting websites so you can finally stop yourself scrolling Instagram before bed.

Headspace

Use Headspace for a few minutes of guided meditation every day. It will help you unwind after a stressful day and even sleep better.

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