Every year, about half the nation makes New Year’s resolutions. And every year, most of us don’t see those through. That number could improve if we better customized our plans to do things we were truly excited about — and that would help us reach our goals, according to experts.
“Resolutions like losing weight, eating better and drinking less alcohol allow you to quit the easiest,” says Ray Wallace, owner of FIT RxN in Hoboken, New Jersey. There’s not much accountability, specificity or optimism in those goals.
On the other hand, he says you should make specific, tangible resolutions that will help you change your life. One day you’ll pull on a pair of pants and zip them up without struggling. That moment is the difference. “That’s when people push harder, their consistency goes up, their dedication increases and they become laser-focused on their goal,” says Wallace.
So this year, rather than setting meaningless resolutions and focusing on an arbitrary number (or making a commitment to something you actually don’t really want to do), upgrade your typical resolution to something you’ll stick to — and make happen.
I WILL WORK OUT MORE
2018 upgrade: I will work out three times a week.
Why it works: Resolve to work out more and you might do it — for a few weeks, at least. But resolve to work out at a specific frequency so you can keep track and you’re more likely to be successful. Maybe resolve to work out with a friend, someone who will keep you accountable, so you’re less likely to skip the gym or your run, says Wallace.
Not sure who to ask? Use these tips to find the perfect partner.
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I WILL GIVE UP (INSERT TRIGGER FOOD) COMPLETELY
2018 upgrade: I will eat balanced meals.
Why it works: “If you fight all your cravings, health suddenly becomes too much hard work, and all the good things you’re doing will feel like they could crumble down,” says Rebecca Scritchfield, RDN, author of Body Kindness.
So rather than completely swearing off foods you enjoy — which could lead to a binge and ultimately you abandoning your resolution altogether — work them into your meal plan. For example, decide you will have dessert when you’re with friends or family, or that you’ll have one or two veggie slices on pizza night, says Scritchfield.
I WILL MEDITATE 20 MINUTES EVERY DAY
2018 upgrade: I will close my eyes and focus on my breath for at least 1 minute daily.
Why it works: If you haven’t built up a meditation practice, sitting for 20 minutes is a long time. For some, that can cause more anxiety and stress — the very things we often try to mitigate with meditation. Set a manageable goal, and you’ll benefit more. Over time, you can aim to meditate for longer lengths of time.
“Sitting for even a minute or two helps you realize that you are not your thoughts and that all your thoughts — and even your emotions — are impermanent,” says Dina Kaplan, co-founder and president of The Path, a New York City organization that teaches meditation. “Each day has its ups and downs, and when you start meditating for a few minutes daily, over time, you’ll get less aggravated about small things and find more delight in little things, too.”
I WILL SAVE MORE MONEY
2018 upgrade: I will spend smarter.
Why it works: Many of us equate “save more” with “cut every non-necessity.” But that translates into cutting things you enjoy. Instead, “identify your top priorities, values and goals, and bring your spending and savings into alignment with them,” says Stefanie O’Connell, author of “The Broke and Beautiful Life.”
For example, if you’re trying to get fitter and you like trying different studios, cutting your ClassPass membership should be a no-go, she says. On the other hand, maybe you’re not big on TV, so you can give up cable or Netflix.
I WILL POST ON SOCIAL MEDIA TO BECOME FAMOUS
2018 upgrade: I will post on social media because I enjoy it.
Why it works: If you enjoy sharing your experiences on social media, there’s no reason not to Snapchat your smoothie recipe or Instagram that amazing sunset. But if your posts are in an effort to become the next internet star or influencer, you could wind up feeling lonely and unsatisfied.
In a recent study, Kent State University researchers found that college students who used their smartphones “obsessively” or at inappropriate times, like while driving or in bed, reported feeling less emotionally connected to their peers and family.
The study recommended prioritizing face-to-face communication over tech-based conversations. So take the video or photo, and then put the phone down.
Written by Brittany Risher, a writer, editor and digital strategist specializing in health and lifestyle content. She loves experimenting with new vegan recipes and believes hummus is a food group. To stay sane from working too hard, she turns to yoga, strength training, meditation and scotch. Connect with her on Twitter, Google+, and LinkedIn.