The holidays are over and it’s time to hit the restart button on some bad habits. Whether it’s pledging to quit smoking, start exercising more or spend less time on social media, most of us use January as a time to reassess and get a good start on a happier and healthier New Year. Sadly, according to statistics, most of those good intentions start to fade away before the first month of the year is over.
So, how do you make those resolutions stick? Here are three tips to help you stay on the right track:
Choose attainable goals
If you’re imagining completely revolutionizing your life in the New Year, you’re quite likely setting yourself up for failure. While many people would like to make huge life changes — make more money, find a more fulfilling relationship, cut out all unhealthy foods — a complete life make-over is usually fairly unrealistic. Most experts recommend choosing small but very specific goals like working out once or twice a week, limiting yourself to only drinking alcohol on weekends, taking a class in order to foster a hobby, or having your family put away their phones for one hour after dinner time to curb social media use. Those little measures are easier to stick to and can encourage bigger lifestyle changes without the huge pressure of having to stick to a major resolution.
Make yourself accountable
If you make a silent pact with yourself to run more often or make a home-cooked meal completely from scratch at least three times a week, you won’t have anyone to cheer you on or hold you accountable to sticking to your goal. Tell your family about what you want to achieve and then post a calendar where you tick off your accomplishments — it’s a great visual of what you’ve achieved and your loved ones can encourage you when you’d rather just sit on the couch or order take-out. Social media can also come in handy here: if your goal is to read more, share the titles of the books you’re reading on Facebook or a site like Goodreads so that friends can engage with you in your progress.
Don’t beat yourself up
If you slip up and backslide on your resolution, don’t worry too much about it or beat yourself up. If, after two months of avoiding cigarettes or diligently working out you mess up, it doesn’t erase the work you’ve already put in. Remind yourself that self-improvement in a process, re-dedicate yourself to your goal and move forward.