10 tips to ensure your New Year resolution sticks

By Nelson Vinod Moses


The thought of scrubbing the slate clean and starting anew is an exciting prospect. Every day a new dawn offers that possibility. Come January 1st, 2018 and there appears 365 new dawns that offer a fresh start. According to research, the most common resolutions are to lose weight, start exercising, have better relationships, make more money, save more and give up smoking.

Every year, hundreds of millions make New Year resolutions, but only 9.2 percent succeed with most failing miserably, only to start all over again the next New Year. The reasons for failing are the same, and these stumbling blocks, can be fixed with the aid of some proven research and psychology-based techniques. These will help you awaken your inner Jedi and follow up on your New Year resolutions. Since these are proven, evidence based suggestions, chances of success are high. But as with everything else is life, we can take you to the water, but it will be upto you to take that drink.

Without further ado, we present to you, the 10 ways to keep your New Year resolutions:

1) Be purposeful:

It is important to have a genuine reason for doing what you want to do. It is not enough to say that you want to lose weight or save money. Understanding why you want to do that is key. Losing weight so that you can be more healthy, play with your children, get back in the dating game or continue playing football are solid reasons. Having a definite purpose to whatever it is you are doing is a powerful motivator. The 1946 book ‘Man’s Search for Meaning’ by Viktor Frankl chronicles his experiences in an Auschwitz concentration camp during World War II and highlights the fact that the most important motivator in life is having a purpose.

2) Harvest low-hanging fruit:

It is important to plan on doing something that’s easily achievable. It will be a better idea to say that you want to reduce smoking than saying that you want to quit smoking. Start by decreasing the number of cigarettes smoked. The danger of going for broke is that it is bound to fail. A 2011 study found that almost 70 percent of American smokers want to quit, and more than half tried last year, but only 6 percent succeeded. A good idea would be to say that you will smoke fewer cigarettes initially, and over a few weeks or months, taper off and then attempt a complete stop. You may want a six pack but start with taking a few inches off your waist.

3) Plan to succeed but be prepared to fail:

Everybody starts with the right intentions. We want to fit into our old jeans, spend more time with family, get a big bonus, drink less, save more and vacation in exotic new locales. Most resolutions are easy to keep initially. The fuel from the resolution will fire you up for a few weeks. Then it starts to flicker, and even among the most resolute, the motivation wanes. A study that tracked two groups who made New Year resolutions, found that 53 percent of the successful group experienced at least one slip, and the mean number of slips over the 2-year interval was 14. The main reasons being a lack of personal control, excessive stress, and negative emotion. If you have a setback, brush it off, don’t beat yourself about it, and start again.

4) Enlist your friends and family members:

Having a support network to help with your goal is important. Research states that while the initial motivation to get you fired up to make a change will come from inside you, long-term change will require the help of our support network. They provide the pat on the back when things are going right, and the shoulder to cry on, and words of encouragement when things go wrong.

5) Motivation is good but will power is better:

One of the keys to keeping resolutions is understanding that motivation is the spark plug that helps you get started, but for powering you on the journey, and seeing it to its logical end, you need a motor that will power provides. Think of motivation as the heart will give you the thrust to blast off, and burst through gravity, but will power is the head that will give you direction, and the concentration to keep going. According to the The American Psychological Association lack of willpower was the most significant barrier to change. The good news? Will power can be strengthened. Ask your therapist how.

6) Let the world know:

Talking about your resolution will help you in keeping it. So go ahead, tell your friends about it, let your colleagues know, and broadcast it on the family Whatsapp group. Better still, put it up on Facebook, or on Instagram, if that’s your thing. This is because there’s pressure on you to keep the promise and there’s also your friends, family and colleagues who will ask you about it, and keep you honest. Research suggests that individuals who explicitly state their resolutions are 10 times more likely to keep them than individuals who don’t broadcast their resolutions.

7) Be SMART about it:

Too often resolutions fail because they are not clear, specific and trackable. Goals that are SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, relevant , and time- bound) are more achievable. So instead of saying you will eat less, measure it and say that you will consume 1800 calories a day, and not eat fried food. Instead of saying you will save money, make a list of all expenses, and start cutting off the ones that are most expensive and least needed.

8) Trick yourself:

What if you could turn your New Year resolution into something you can’t resist? Instead of it being a painful thing that you dread doing, you can make it something that you enjoy doing, and relish. The main reason we don’t keep our resolutions is that as humans we lack self-control. Those who succeed are better at keeping their mind off the pain in the present by focusing on the long-term returns. Research suggest that listening to addictive audio books while spending time at the gym increased the the desire and enjoyability (temptation bundling) of going to the gym. The opposite effect can also be created where we create negative associations with things we crave, like junk food, a recent study suggests that we can retrain our brain to hate the things we love.

9) Be ready to pivot:

Face it, we all start with good intentions, but we don’t have a crystal ball to look into the future. Chances are things do not go as planned. You’ve joined the gym, but its too far, or you can’t go in the morning when you are feeling energetic, and you are too tired after work. What now? Look for alternatives. If your resolution was to go to the gym five times a week but now you can’t it is time to change course and pivot. Find a swimming pool close to your house or workplace, try pilates, join a yoga class, or build a home gym. After all, the real intention is not just going to the gym five times a week, it is to lose weight. Don’t fret, pivot.

10) Reward yourself:

If everything goes according to plan, you hit some of your targets and begin to see results, please reward yourself. This necessarily doesn’t mean that you go and eat a 2000 calorie meal after losing a few kilos. Instead treat yourself to a massage, buying a new shirt, check out a new restaurant or go watch a movie. Rewarding yourself is the carrot that you need to stay motivated.

Want to be a new you in 2018? Talk to a Seraniti expert today.