New Year’s resolutions are a popular way to set intentions for the year ahead, but are notoriously difficult to maintain. In one study on New Year’s resolutions, only 19 percent of people stuck to their goals two years down the road. Why are annual objectives so tough to keep? It all comes down to how — and why — you set them.
The good news is that there are proven techniques that can make resolutions tools for sustainable and meaningful transformation.
7 Tips to Help You Stick to Your New Year’s Resolution
Here are a few tips to creating value-based goals to set yourself up for success in 2022.
What is Your Reason for a New Year’s Resolution?
Resolutions like losing weight or working out more are often meaningless without a larger objective or emotional tie. One way to succeed is to find purpose behind your goals through a values-based approach. The more a goal is linked to something that is deeply important to you, the more likely you are to achieve your objectives.
The Values-Based Approach to Successful Lifestyle Changes
To determine your “why,” tie your goals to your core values. Sit down in a quiet place with a resource like Brene Brown’s list of values and deeply reflect on your priorities. Maybe it’s family, faith, career, or integrity. There are no right answers, but understanding what you care about will open the doors to setting goals that matter.
Once you’ve written your core values, you can create goals with purpose. For instance, if one of your core values is family, and your goal is to lose weight, you can reframe the goal to something along the lines of “becoming healthy so that I have the energy and vitality to better serve my family.” From there, you can break the goal down into more specific and measurable components. If you’re unsure how to do this, you can work with a coach (and maybe even help others with this exciting process!)
Research also suggests that how goals are set matters. Here are a few proven goal setting techniques to get you started:
Create SMART Goals
Setting SMART goals is a well-known technique for enhancing the chances of completion. SMART stands for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Timebound. Use the SMART technique to create specific goals with quantifiable measurements that push your limits an appropriate amount past your current abilities. An example of a SMART goal is “by March 1, 2022 I will run a 10 kilometer race.”
Set Up Interim Check-Ins for Your Progress
If you set a big goal with a year-long timeline, you might not feel driven to work towards your goal immediately — you might think “oh I have time, I can get started later.” Setting goals too far into the future can cause you to lose momentum, or even give up on your plan. To avoid thwarting your success before you even get started, break your overarching goals into smaller bite-sized milestones (using the SMART technique above) and set up quarterly or even monthly progress check-ins with a friend or coach.
Enroll Social Support for Greater Accountability
Goal-setters who have social support are more likely to succeed, so enlist an accountability buddy to help you reach your 2022 goals. Coaches make ideal accountability partners, or you can enlist friends, loved ones, or even your social media community to boost support and keep yourself on track with your goals.
Focus on Positive Outcomes
Researchers understand that approach-based goals are more effective than avoidance-oriented goals. Simply put: positive goals work better. An example of an approach-based goal would be to set a goal of eating a vegetable with every meal, rather than the avoidance-oriented goal of giving up sweets or processed foods. Focusing on the positive outcomes of health goals can make them more achievable, so take a moment to appreciate the nutrients those extra veggies are feeding your body. You’ll likely begin craving more of them!
Don’t Get Discouraged With Setbacks
When people make a slip or miss a milestone while working towards a goal, they often throw it out the window. One of the keys towards achieving resolutions and goals is to keep working towards them despite setbacks. As Julie Andrews once said, “Perseverance is failing 19 times and succeeding the 20th.” If you miss a week of your exercise program or forget to eat those healthy vegetables for a few meals, get back on track as quickly as possible without judgment, shame or guilt.
The new year can be an ideal time for changing behaviors and habits that allow you to thrive for years to come. It’s a time to start with a clean slate, and introduce habits that boost your well-being. These goals need more than just the intention of starting the year off right, though. New Year’s resolutions that work require a greater purpose, smart goal-setting and perseverance to cross the finish line.
Become a Health Coach in 6 Months
Learn more about how to support people’s physical, emotional, and cognitive well-being through our 6-month Health Coaching Certificate Program.