Diana Vilibert December 18, 2014
Planning to lose weight, start running, or quit smoking in 2015? Join the club. While a lot of us—almost half percent of Americans—make New Year’s resolutions confidently and optimistically, only eight percent of people actually achieve them. As for the rest of us? Well, there’s still hope—keep reading to find out what makes a New Year’s resolution succeed or fail, and how to make sure you own 2015 goal sticks.
Simple is best
January 1, 2015 is not the time for a total life overhaul. Willpower is a finite resource, so use it wisely. Pick one goal to focus on at a time (even if you plan to work on a few over the course of the year) instead of overloading yourself with plans to run a marathon, double your income, go vegan, and stop smoking.
“We say if you can’t measure it, it’s not a very good resolution because vague goals beget vague resolutions,” John Norcross of the University of Scranton tells Forbes. Instead of making a resolution to eat more vegetables, make a plan to eat a veggie-centric meal for lunch every day. Instead of resolving to start working out, sign up for a class that meets three times a week. Want to cook more? Put grocery shopping on your calendar, along with a few weeknights each week so that it’s part of your schedule, not just wishful thinking.
Reward yourself along the way
Researchers found that “reinforcement strategies”—rewards for reaching goals part of the resolution—helped people succeed in their resolution. All the more reason to treat yourself to a massage after a month of sticking to a running program, or a cooking class while working on eating healthy.
Plan to fail
Don’t be afraid of setbacks…expect them! Successful resolution-makers who stuck to it for two years slipped up an average of 14 times over the two-year span. Don’t assume your resolution will be without hiccups along the way—and don’t let temporary setbacks get you down on yourself. Researchers found that self-blaming behaviors were more often correlated with failure to keep a resolution long-term.