New Year’s Resolutions – how to stick to them

We all know them, the New Year’s resolutions: more sport, healthier food and less smoking. On New Year’s Eve we are looking into the sky, enjoying the fireworks and at the same time we already have a guilty conscience. Will I succeed in doing more sports or quitting smoking? At the beginning of January, we all are highly motivated, we subscribe to a gym and throw out the last cigarettes we still have from New Year’s Eve. But after the first and the second week in January have passed our resolutions are gone as well. Sports are really exhausting and my stressful job “forces” me to continue smoking.

The most popular New Year’s resolutions in Germany

According to a survey made in 2016, the most popular resolution among Germans are “doing more sports” and “eat healthier” with 25%. Behind those the survey found “spending more time with friends and family” with 21%, “climbing the career ladder one step further” with 13%, “falling in love (again)” with 12% and “giving up smoking/drinking” with 11%.

How do New Year’s resolution function?

We all grasp for a better version of ourselves. That’s the reason we make New Year’s resolution. Giving up old habits from one day to another is very hard and doesn’t always work out. According to a study from the University of Scranton, only 8% stick to their resolutions. Most people fail because of one of these two reasons: they try to achieve too much at once or the good resolutions were made on a whim and therefore, unconsciously,  aren’t taken seriously. This means: taking small steps and taking your resolutions seriously is the key to success. Motivational research has found out that the closer you get to your goal, the more drive you have to fulfil it. This phenomenon is called “Goal – Gradient – Effect”.

How to stick to your resolutions

Your weaker self is hard to fight against. Of course you’ll ask how to succeed in sticking to your resolutions further than a few weeks into January. We’ve researched and put together some useful tips for you:

  • Write them down and place the piece of paper somewhere where you’re able to see it every day (e.g. “loose 10 pounds” is best placed on your fridge door).
  • Promulgate your resolutions. Tell your friends, family and colleagues about your resolutions. The more people know about them, the easier it is for you to stick to them.
  • Reward yourself. A reward increases your motivation and helps to go on.
  • Put your resolutions in concrete terms. Don’t just write down “doing more sports” but write “jogging on Mondays and Thursdays for 30 minutes”.
  • Find combatants and/or like-minded people. Going to the gym every Monday and Thursday can be a difficult task, especially because no one will notice when you don’t go. With a training partner, you’ll definitively be more motivated to go and you won’t skip too many dates.
  • Write your resolutions down in a positive way. Researchers of the University of Utrecht have found out that the lounder we say we WON’T EVER DO something again, the higher is the probability that we’ll do exactly this. Instead, you should formulate your resolutions is a positive manner. Write “eat two portions of fruit a day” instead of “no chocolate”.

Setbacks

 Now you already know how to increase your chances of sticking to your resolutions. But everyone has to deal with setbacks when trying to reach their goals. Phillippa Lally from the University College in London even claims that new habits can only be established after two months at the earliest. The only solution to this is breath, stay calm and carry on.

As hard as it might seem to stick to your New Year’s resolutions, the more proud you’ll be when you succeed in doing more sports, giving up smoking or spending more time with your family. The first step is the hardest, after that it gets easier. Don’t let yourself discourage from setbacks, always live by the motto: Never give up!