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New Resolve for New Year’s Resolutions

January 1 2016

This year millions of Americans will make New Year’s Resolutions. Unfortunately only 40% of those who start them will still be on track six months later.

In 2015, three of the ten most popular resolutions were about health and wellness, with #1 being - - you guessed it - - losing weight.

FitIndi wanted to find out: What makes people successful at keeping their resolutions? What advice would help our clients stay fit throughout the year?

How successful are we at keeping our resolutions?

We’ve been good at keeping the tradition, if not the resolutions. The custom goes back 4,000 years to ancient Babylon. And the Babylonians probably had a hard time getting their resolve to stick. Let's consider some modern day research.

In 1985 professors John Norcross and Dominic Vangarelli of the University of Scranton tracked 200 New Year resolvers over a two-year period. They found that the majority of us give up on our resolutions one month later and only 19% make it to two years. They also found that age, gender, and particular resolution had no effect on success.

So how do we assure we’re the 1 in 5 resolvers who actually experience long-term success?

What makes us successful at keeping our resolutions?

Some approaches to keeping your New Year’s Resolution are counter-productive. And there are strategies winners use that those who struggle should pay attention to.

What doesn’t work
  • Self-blame: Constantly blaming yourself for missteps and simply wishing the problem away doesn’t work. People who use such strategies usually fail after one month. Chase away negativity with a more positive attitude.
  • “All-or-nothing” thinking: Seeking perfection with your new strategy can be a recipe for disaster. Most successful change is gradual, with incremental improvements, along with the occasional lapse. A set-back should not mean rolling over and giving in to failure.
What does work
  • Experiential clues: Create an expectation of success with constant reminders of what you wish to achieve. These should be real-word visual clues, physical items, sounds and yes, even smells.
  • Willpower: The more personal the goal, the higher level of commitment. Consider your specific resolutions carefully. Make sure you will bring the proper level of commitment to them. If you are not truly willing to stick to the plan then adjust your aim and shoot for a modified goal.
  • Rewarding yourself: Hold aside special rewards to celebrate our successes. Set specific milestones (for example running a 10K or losing 20 pounds) and celebrate reaching them with a treat. The more significant the milestone, the larger the reward.
  • Social support: This may be the most important to ongoing success. Seek out people and situations that support what you are trying to do. Avoid saboteurs and places that are likely to result in a broken resolution.

It may be difficult to keep resolutions but not impossible. And even traditionally resolutions are set at the start of a new year, they can come any time of year for the start of a new you.

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