From Thanksgiving through New Year’s, people tend to spend a lot of time and money enjoying meals and celebrations with friends and family. It’s a time for gathering, reflection, over-eating, and looking ahead to the coming year. With that, naturally, comes New Year’s resolutions— and as we all know, these can be very hard to keep. Failed New Year’s resolutions are quintessential— planning a healthy diet for the year to come lasts three weeks, gym memberships are bought and unused, books are ready to read but sit untouched for months on end. You may be wondering, is failure inevitable for even the most well-intentioned New Year’s resolutions? The answer is no! Keep reading to learn how to make your resolutions stick for 2018 and beyond.
Psychologist Lynn Bufka, PhD, explains how to best better your life in the new year. “Setting small, attainable goals throughout the year, instead of a singular, overwhelming goal on January 1 can help you reach whatever it is you strive for. Remember, it is not the extent of the change that matters, but rather the act of recognizing that lifestyle change is important and working toward it, one step at a time.” One year is a long time, and you do not have to reach your goal immediately. Give yourself time and set reasonable goals and expectations. You’re not going to lose 30 pounds in the first month, but 5 pounds? I bet you can do that.
It’s important not to get discouraged, and to forgive yourself, when you don’t seem to be making gains. You wanted to start going to the gym 4 times a week, but you only made it once? That’s okay, don’t be hard on yourself. Life gets in the way. Try to go twice next week. Better yet, figure out an alternative to the gym if it’s difficult for you to get there as much as you want. Can you walk to work? Go for a brisk stroll during your lunch break? Do an at-home exercise routine? Go for a bike ride on the weekend? Be flexible and open to adjustments. Like any routine, you have to figure out what works best for your life.
If you’re uncertain whether you can keep yourself accountable, consider joining a group or committing to a goal with a friend. Sign up for a gym class or meet a friend at the park for a jog. It can be easier to keep it up if you’re not alone, and you have someone to talk about the journey with.
Most importantly, try and dig deeper. Consider why your particular resolutions are your resolutions, and address the root issue, if there is one. If you’re unhappy with your body, maybe seek body-positive writers and artists to help you reframe the issue. If you feel unhealthy, try adding more fruits and vegetables into your diet and eating less processed ingredients before you resolve to take up weight lifting in 2018. (Not that there’s anything wrong with weight lifting, but is it the answer for you?) In fact, there may be more than one answer. Maybe you want to eat healthier and weight lift. Maybe you don’t want to eat healthier at all. Whatever you decide, take it slow, be open to adjustments, and stay positive and hopeful in the new year.