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How to Keep New Year’s Resolutions

Key Takeaways

  • Make sure your resolution is realistic so you don’t get discouraged and abandon your goal altogether.
  • Turn a daunting resolution into smaller, more manageable goals that allow you to measure your progress.
  • Adding new habits to your regular routine makes sticking to it second nature instead of random.

Most of us start the new year with the best of intentions.

I’m going to exercise more often!

I’m going to become a bookworm!

I’m going to save more money!

Choosing your New Year’s resolution is the easy part. Actually following through on that resolution takes discipline and motivation.

Don’t want it to fizzle out after a month or so? Here are some tips to help you see your resolution through the entire year.

1. Be realistic

You want to make positive changes to your life, right? Doing so starts with choosing a realistic resolution.

Let’s say you want to eat healthier in the new year. That’s a great resolution. However, some people go too far by saying they want to cut out all sugar from their diet. That might be asking too much of yourself, especially if that’s a drastic change from the previous year. Setting unrealistic goals could discourage you if you fall short and ultimately make you abandon the larger goal of eating healthier. A simpler expectation could be to substitute water for soda, or to stop adding salt to meals.

Set realistic expectations so you can follow through on them and reap the benefits of those positive changes. That way the next time you set a New Year’s resolution, you can either move on to a different goal or build on that same resolution.

2. Set smaller goals within your larger goal

For some, New Year’s resolutions are daunting. That’s why it’s helpful to break them down into smaller, more manageable goals. Not only does this help you measure success; it makes the larger goal less intimidating and more achievable, too.

If you want to save more money in the new year, check in every month to see if you hit your savings goal. If you achieved that month’s goal, great. That positive reinforcement could be the fuel you need to stay on track. After all, if you hit all of your smaller goals, you’ll achieve your larger, more daunting goal.

Take it a step further and log your progress on a calendar or spreadsheet. That way you can see just how far you’ve come since you started.

3. Add it to your routine

Let’s face it — we’re creatures of habit. You probably have your work week down to a science. With that in mind, make your New Year’s resolution part of your routine so it becomes second nature instead of random.

Trying to reduce stress? Meditate at the same time every day. Want to read more? Make bedtime reading a regular occurrence. The sooner you can make a new habit not “new” anymore, the better. You may have heard that it takes 21 days to form a new habit. Actually, it’s more like two months — 66 days to be exact — so if you can survive through the end of February, you have a good chance of keeping your resolution throughout the year.

4. Don’t be too hard on yourself

You set your resolution to become a better version of yourself. But at the end of the day, you’re still human. You’re bound to slip up here and there.

Don’t run at the first sign of trouble. If work gets hectic one week and you can’t find the time to exercise, that’s OK! Dust yourself off and pick it up again next week. At the end of the year when you’re evaluating how you did with your resolution, you won’t remember the few times you slipped up, but all the moments you succeeded.

Think about it: Would you really be in that much better shape if you hit your exercise goals all 52 weeks of the year as opposed to 48? Wouldn’t you still feel better if you ate healthy six days a week with one “cheat day” mixed in rather than stressing to eat healthy every day? In fact, a study conducted by the Journal of Consumer Psychology found that planning ahead for one cheat day per week can help people maintain their diets longer than those who stuck to their strict diets every day.

You’re on a mission to make positive changes to your life, and succeeding more often than not will still yield positive results and motivate you to keep going.

The bottom line

New Year’s resolutions give you the opportunity to make positive changes to your life. However, setting a resolution only to abandon it a short time later does you little good. Some changes could be more difficult than others, but that’s to be expected when you’re heading down a new path — a path to a better you. Do your best to stay the course. That way next December when you’re choosing another New Year’s resolution, you can set your sights on a new way to improve yourself and go forth confident in your ability to put your new plan into action.

More information

Looking to better manage your finances in the new year? Our dedicated colleagues can help you make positive changes to your money management to help you reach your potential. To learn more, visit us online or schedule a Citizens Checkup at your nearest Citizens Bank branch.

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