8 Tips for Actually Keeping Your New Year’s Resolutions

Making New Year’s resolutions is easy. It’s sticking with them that’s hard. Here are some expert tips that can take you from talking the talk to walking the walk.

2019 is upon us! New year, new you, right?

But let’s be honest here. We all say we’re going to make all of these big changes—and maybe you even got a head start back in December—but how often do they stick? Maybe you keep up that diet for a few weeks. Maybe you’re even still hitting the gym all the way through February.

Eventually, life returns to normal. Things get hectic and you fall back into old patterns. That’s why—to mis-paraphrase Seinfeld—it’s not enough to make your resolutions, you have to keep your resolutions.

And these tips will help you do just that!

1. Take some time to reflect.

Before you decide what you’ll be working towards in the new year, it’s good to take some time to look back and see what from the last year you’d like to be different.

“Before anything else, take time to reflect,” recommended Anika Christ, registered dietitian and director of digital programming at Life Time (@lifetimefitness). “It’s easy to latch onto common resolution ideas that sound good, but do we spend time thinking through whether or not a particular resolution is right for us? Even worse, do we pick the same resolution year after year simply because we never end up achieving it?

“This year, try a different approach. Get out a pen and paper. Spend some time reflecting back on the current year: what you achieved, what you were grateful for and what areas of life you would like to improve.”

She wasn’t the only one who felt that way.

“Be honest,” advised consultant and speaker Dr. Yashima White AziLove (@DrYashima). “Don’t set an intention that isn’t honestly what you desire. Don’t fall victim to the pressure of achieving something that really hasn’t surfaced as a priority to us.”

“Our goals can’t be defined by ‘have to and must items’ as defined by others. After all, if it was really all that important, we wouldn’t wait until the new year to chase it! Just stop. Be honest. What do you really want?”

2. Get it in writing.

While our digital world has nearly caused paper to become obsolete, there’s still an advantage to having things in physical form. Especially when it’s a resolution you actually want to keep.

“WRITE IT DOWN!” suggested life coach MegAnne Ford (@bekindcoaching). “Our brain works in mysterious ways—one of which is connecting writing to action! As soon as we write it down—either in a journal or on a vision board- it will be a real thing.”

3. Shoot for a habit, not a goal.

Resolutions are more about the journey than the destination. If you focus too much on the goal, you can lose track of the day-to-day, as well as the steps you actually need to accomplish that goal.

“The biggest mistake that most people make is basing it on the goal rather than the habit,” warned Alexis Craig, certified personal trainer and coach at Gixo (@gixofit). “People will say that they want to lose ten pounds rather than addressing the habits that need to be changed, like switching from a sweetened latte to black coffee, walking after dinner every day, or doing 15-20 minutes of cardio a day.”

“And with that, people often take much too big of a leap, which leads to failure (80 percent of resolutions fail by February 1st), so you should set a habit to do something each and every day, rather than doing big things once in a while. You’re more likely to stick to it if you bring it into your daily routine.

“Some other ideas are stretching every day while you brew your coffee, do burpees before you jump into the shower, squats while you are brushing your teeth, or a walk before you do the dishes after dinner.”

4. Always be making progress.

As Craig said, it’s important to do something each and every day. And she wasn’t the only one who told us that.

“One way to make sure that you keep your New Year’s resolutions is to commit to having no ‘zero days’,” advised Itamar Shatz, PhD candidate at Cambridge and author of Solving Procrastination. “A ‘zero day’ is a wasted day, where you make no progress towards any of your goals despite having the opportunity and the desire to do so.

“These days are detrimental, since they significantly hinder down our progress, especially when they make us feel frustrated and powerless to make progress, which can increase the likelihood that we will have more of these days in the future.

“The best way to avoid having zero days is to commit to making progress towards each of your goals, every single day where you can reasonably do so. For example, if you have to write a paper on Saturday, you might decide that you won’t go to sleep until you manage to write at least one page for that paper.

“Committing to this can help you hold yourself accountable, and ensure that you make consistent progress towards your goals. Furthermore, it can motivate you to get started, since you know that you won’t allow yourself to postpone your work until the next day, so you might as well start early and get it off your plate.”

5. Don’t be too hard on yourself.

While it’s important to be disciplined, if you’re too harsh on yourself, you can just end up in a worse place. As with anything, you’ll get more done if you choose something you can actually accomplish rather than giving up on something you can’t and ending up with nothing.

“One tip for remaining focused on your New Year’s resolution goals is to be gentle with yourself,” explained Katie Ziskind, therapist and owner of Wisdom Within Counseling. “One reason many people fail at their goals is because they beat themselves up. People tend to be too intense and too hard on themselves.

“Instead, create bite-size goals that are manageable and relatively small. Smaller goals allow you to achieve them in a more realistic manner. Being gentle on yourself allows you to be your own best friend and feel empowered from the inside out. Focus on your inner fire and feel inspired rather than not good enough.”

6. Don’t go it alone.

Everything is easier when you have someone to help you along!

“Although resolutions can be deeply personal, having support can offer you motivation and guidance,” explained Christ. “Some people find inspiration in sharing goals through their social media outlets to stay on track, while others find more connection with a close friend or coach throughout their journey.

“An expert or coach can be great for the objective viewpoint and personal expertise they offer. A helpful event is Life Time’s Commitment Day on January 1st, where all of our clubs will be open to everyone. You can visit any Life Time club and chat with a coach or trainer to lay that initial foundation for your goals and find a support network.”

7. Share your progress.

While there can be a lot of unpleasantness online, there’s also some great positivity out there, as long as you control who has access to your posts, or what you’re choosing to see.

Ford shared how this has helped her personally: “Share your goal with an accountability friend- or even on social media. You’ll need cheerleaders in your corner!

“Once when I was posting about not biting my nails I had a hard day and bit one off. Then I posted about it and got an encouraging message from an old college friend. I had no idea he was following my journey but he was there to help me get back on!”

8. Sleep on it.

While you might be doing everything right while you’re awake, there’s a third of your day that’s just as important to make sure you keep your resolutions.

“We are sabotaging our other resolutions by not getting enough sleep,” advised Chris Brantner, the Certified Sleep Science Coach at SleepZoo.com (@SleepZooDotCom). Proper sleep is crucial for weight loss. Too little sleep leads to poor food choices, largely due to increased levels of the hunger hormone, ghrelin.”

“Too little sleep also decreases levels of leptin, a hormone that helps satiate your appetite. Lack of sleep also clouds judgment and causes impulse decision making, which inevitably leads to poor food choices.

“In the deeper third and fourth stages of sleep, heart rate and breathing decrease, causing you to fall into a deep sleep. Here the muscles relax, and growth hormone is released. This aids in muscle development and overall body development.

“It is during these stages of sleep that all that hard work you did during the day really pays off. So if you’re hitting the gym for weight loss, you need plenty of sleep to ensure that you get through the proper stages of the sleep cycle and allow your muscles to rejuvenate and grow.

“Lack of sleep is also detrimental to financial resolutions. Studies have shown that lack of sleep leads to riskier decision making, which can cause people to make bad decisions with their money. Sure risk-taking can be good, however, sleep deprivation leads to impulsivity, whereas your financial goals will require careful planning and self-restraint.”

There you go: eight tips to leave 2018 behind and get a better start next year. May you accomplish all of your resolutions and have a great 2019!

To learn more about building better financial habits, check out these related posts and articles from OppLoans:

What are your best strategies for sticking to your New Year’s resolutions? We want to hear from you! You can find us on Facebook and Twitter.

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Dr. Yashima White AziLove (@DrYashima) is the founder of YWA Enterprises and Managing Partner of Magnate Consulting, a boutique personal and professional development firm specializing in communications, personal branding, and leadership development. Dr. Yashima is a multi-faceted marketplace mogul that has excelled as an entrepreneur and corporate executive in the media, entertainment, healthcare, and financial service industries; proving her diversified skill set and thought leadership is transferable and effective wherever it’s applied. Blazing trails for others to follow, Dr. Yashima, the Brandologist and Master Communicator, is a sought-after speaker, corporate consultant and ICF certified professional coach with a global client footprint spanning from celebrity talent and cultural influencers to Fortune 100 companies and individuals who are ready to be unleveled through the power of effective communications.
Anika Christ is a Personal Trainer, Registered Dietitian, Sports Nutritionist and Life Time’s (@lifetimefitness) original virtual coach. In fact, she’s spent her entire career building Life Time’s nutrition and weight loss programming. When she’s not at work, she enjoys reading, lifting weights and practicing yoga.
Alexis Craig is consistently featured on “San Francisco’s Best Trainer” lists. With more than a decade of experience building strength and endurance, her work has benefited everyone from teens with cerebral palsy to former Navy Seals. She believes that regardless of your current fitness level, you can grow and succeed. Expect her to make it fun, and make it yours!
MegAnne Ford (@bekindcoaching) is a connector of all people. She works as a certified life & parent coach- helping parents set and reach big goals while teaching their children how to do this work too. She is a big believer in fostering a growth mindset and leaning into learning through the mistakes of life- ultimately building a stronger, healthier more connected family for LIFE! Her favorite clients have big spirits and big dreams! She lives her life kindly in Richmond, Va with her husband and darling furry family.
Itamar Shatz is a Ph.D. candidate at Cambridge University and author of Solving Procrastination.
Katie Ziskind is a licensed marriage and family therapist, a 500-hour registered yoga teacher, and owner of Wisdom Within Counseling. Wisdom Within Counseling, near East Lyme, Connecticut, is a practice that uses a holistic, integrative approach. Art, yoga, music, and outdoor therapies are woven together with talk therapy. Additionally, Wisdom Within Counseling, is an LGBTQIA+ friendly and advocates for youth and adults. Teletherapy and distance options are available.

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