January is the most popular month for buying gym memberships. You most likely will have heard a number of people saying they have decided to give up smoking. Well-intentioned people often start the New Year with a long list of personal resolutions, but very often most of them are abandoned around Valentine’s Day. We all know how much easier it is to make a New Year’s resolutions, than it is to keep it.
So how do we make these contracts we have “signed with ourselves” stick?
1. Share your goals with your family and friends.
Ask them to hold you accountable for your goals. If you ask your friend or partner to hold you accountable to go for a run together once a week, you are more likely to do it to avoid letting them down.
2. Save the date.
Scheduling specific activities in your diary i.e. yoga lessons once a week or book a tennis court once a week. The best way to make it happen is to pay for the course and hard code it in your diary. Similarly, if you want to obtain a new skill, or spend more holiday time with your family – the best way to ensure that it happens is to plan ahead and put down at least a deposit or full payment.
3. Set at least a minimum of one and a maximum of three goals.
We have a finite amount of willpower so setting out 10 goals to achieve is unlikely to happen. Research shows that you are more likely to achieve a smaller amount of resolutions as people to struggle to make too many changes to their lives all at once.
4. Make it specific.
Rather than deciding to lose weight or eat healthier set a specific goal, lose 1 kg a week or only eat red meat once a week.
5. Try to make it to the end of February.
Most New Year’s Resolutions are abandoned in January already, which is why it is important to get into a certain rhythm from the beginning. Whilst the milestones may not feel enormous given you’re looking at a two month horizon, but your chance of sticking to it will significantly increase.
Tips on keeping few specific resolutions.
Here are a few more tips on some common resolutions mad, provided by Harvard research. (http://hbswk.hbs.edu/item/5-new-year-s-resolutions-you-can-keep-with-the-help-of-behavioral-science-research)
The decision to eat healthier
By shopping a full weeks worth of food or ordering a week in advance you will hopefully avoid giving into any immediate food cravings you might have at the click of the mouse. Online food ordering has become too easy, so next time you’re tempested to order a Deliveroo, try planning next weeks meals and tackling the shopping list.
The decision to exercise more
Try and avoid being influenced by how inactive your family and friends might be. We often make ourselves feel better by comparing ourselves to the least active friend or family member which can become a slippery slope. Instead, compare yourself to the most active person in the group and aspire to do more.
The decision to save money for retirement
…then keep on ignoring what your peers are doing. Harvard researchers looked at whether employees were more or less likely to contribute to their individual saving plans if they knew what their peers were doing. Strikingly, it was found that knowing what their colleagues were contributing to their pensions people were less likely to save for retirement. Instead of being motivated by their peers’ admirable investment activity, they were demoralised. Do not give into this and keep saving!
Make sure your resolutions are not too ambitious to keep, its more effective have less or small goals that are achievable, than it is to aim for the stars. Happy 2017 and keep up the good work.
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