This was going to be the year.
You were going to exercise more.
And you were going to stay away from your diet kryptonite…desserts.
But then you had to go on a business trip, which made it difficult to exercise.
And your neighbor showed up with a plate of cookies. You didn’t want to be rude.
So you ate one…or three.
And just like that… Your New Year’s resolutions were history.
Maybe next year.
Why New Year’s Resolutions Fail
Next Monday is a better idea, according to Ron Hernandez. He is managing director of a group called the Monday Campaigns. It is associated with Johns Hopkins, Columbia, and Syracuse universities. The group promotes something called the Healthy Monday Reset.i
Hernandez said his organization wants people to stop thinking in terms of yearly resolutions. Shorter-term, weekly resolutions work better.
“With Monday, you have 52 opportunities in a year. If you fall short one week, there’s always an opportunity right around the corner,” he said.”ii
If you start the week well, you’re more likely to continue making healthy choices through the rest of the week, Hernandez said. One successful week often leads to another. Before you know it, you’re on your way to a full year of self-improvement, he said.
A survey by the Monday Campaigns found 20% of people quit their New Year’s resolution after just two weeks. Only a quarter made it through the year. They pointed to lack of discipline and not seeing results quickly enough as the reasons they failed.
But 75% of respondents liked the idea of revisiting their goals on a weekly basis.
4 Steps to Making Your Resolution Stick
Samantha Heller is a dietician with NYU Langone Health. She endorses weekly goals because you can use each Monday to “reflect and learn.”
They’re more realistic and achievable, and less daunting than a year-long resolution, she said.
To set yourself up for success, Heller recommends these four steps before starting your resolution:
- Plan. Heller stresses the importance of thoughtful planning. If you’re going on a diet, make a list of the healthy meals you want and the ingredients for them. If your goal is “to have vegetables every day for lunch,” you have to plan time to shop and prepare your lunches.
For exercise goals, make a schedule. Block out time on your calendar on a weekly basis.
If you want to quit smoking, have a coping strategy to deal with cravings.
- Write down your reasons. This can be general, like, “I just want to be healthier.” Or it could be more specific, such as, “I want to be able to fit in that pair of pants I can’t zip up anymore.” Keep the list handy to glance at when you feel your motivation waning.
- Track your progress. Keep a notebook and log your meals, your weight, improvements in energy and mood, the days you’ve gone without a cigarette, etc.
- Don’t beat yourself up. Don’t get frustrated if you slip up. Just look forward to the next Monday and resolve to do better.
The new year is a great time to make a fresh start at self-improvement. By taking things week to week and following the steps above, you’ll give yourself a better chance to succeed.
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