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7 Strategies for Making Your New Year’s Resolutions Last

January 14, 2019

7 Strategies for Making Your New Year’s Resolutions Last

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At the start of each new year, I am tuned into the information shared about lifestyle changes in the news and other popular forms of communication. This year I was pleased with the tidbits of information I was hearing and seeing on Good Morning America, The Kelly and Ryan show, and The New York Times. I wanted to share some of the highlights that stood out to me. They are key strategies for making lifestyle changes that will last.

The first strategy is to have a bigger vision or dream for your life. Ask yourself the following questions to start finding a bigger vision for your life. What would you like your life to be like a year from now? How would you be thinking, feeling, behaving, enjoying life in new ways, etc.?

The second is to consider having an intention for the year instead of focusing only on goals. For example, you might wish to eat a more nutritious diet. When you have a broader intention, you can experiment with different ways to meet that intention, and if something doesn’t work out, you can just move onto the next experiment. It’s the perfect way to avoid the common pitfall of falling short one day and then deciding to quit the entire goal because you feel like a failure.

The third strategy is to take a small step consistently until it develops into a habit before adding in other changes. For instance, if you want to change your diet, consider adding in an extra serving of vegetables each day until you do it without thinking twice. After that change is a habit, ask yourself what you want to do next to continue to move forward with your intention.

The fourth is to revamp your environment to support your desired lifestyle change. If we go back to the example of improving your diet, you could eliminate some of the temptations that trigger you to make poor choices at work and home. It’s so important to notice how the culture of your work may help or hinder your efforts. On Good Morning America, the camera ran footage in the offices behind the scenes highlighting the donuts, giant bagels, etc. that are always readily available. The work environment is a common challenge for those desiring to change how they eat.

The fifth strategy is to create support systems for yourself. It’s really difficult to make sustainable changes if you are working in isolation all of the time. You will have challenging days and need encouragement to keep going when the going gets tough. You will need people to help you make new, healthy choices. Answering the following questions will get you started. Do you need a support person at work? At home within your family? A friend who is making a similar change? A professional like a health coach?

The sixth strategy is to expect setbacks. No one creates lifestyle changes perfectly right out of the gate. You might start strong and lose momentum, have an off day or week and want to just quit, have a life challenge arise that triggers your old behaviors or any number of other setbacks.

The final strategy is to consider the types of rewards that will truly help you move forward. Research shows that taking the time to celebrate each little step forward is a great place to start. And the second tip about rewards is to choose rewards that help you continue to take positive action towards your goal. For instance, as you continue to improve your diet, maybe you want to eat more salads, so you choose a salad chopper or spinner as a reward for taking consistent action. It’s a tool that makes your attempts to reach your intention easier.

Will any of these strategies help you make your New Year’s Resolutions last this year?

If you're interested in learning more, I will be on an upcoming episode of the Center's podcast to talk about making life changes. Stay tuned!

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The Bakken Center for Spirituality & Healing blog covers a range of integrative health and wellbeing topics. For more information about our blog, contact us at csh@umn.edu