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You made New Year’s resolutions — now what?

Saying you’ll do something is hundreds of miles away from actually doing this “something,” much like how making a list of New Year’s resolutions requires more than promising yourself to change for the better. 

Several studies reveal about half of people make New Year’s resolutions every year, but another bunch of studies also show majority or 80 percent (others go as high as 92 percent) of these resolutions fail and are abandoned come February. 

The top all-time resolutions people always include have something to with health and wellness: “lose weight,” “exercise more,” “eat healthier food.”  Easy, right? Wrong. 

BREAK IT DOWN. One of the reasons resolutions fail, experts say, is that they are often too general or not specific enough. Psychiatrists suggest breaking down big goals into small steps with realistic points or doable tasks for each component. 
Many hurdles await those who make resolutions but are not making them right. A psychotherapist in the US said resolutions that were too general or too vague and not specific enough was the usual reason they fail. 

Framing them with negative language and making a list that does not reflect what a person actually wants are likewise culprits, according to Jonathan Alpert in an interview with Business Insider.

The Benilde Well-Being Center of the De La Salle-College of Saint Benilde, meanwhile, adds that “at this point, it is the common time for your determination to wane and finally give up on the promises made during the turn of the year.”

The center cites three possible issues: difficulty of breaking old habits, focus on specific outcomes, and problems with purpose. 

Experts offer a few hacks to help save those resolutions that get recycled every year because they are never accomplished. 

Break down big plans into small steps

Instead of making a long list of resolutions, think first of the three or five major milestones you’d like to achieve and the reasons for choosing these goals. Those who are hoping to adopt healthier eating habits, for example, should evaluate their attitude toward eating to help them better control what they consume. 

Dr. Charles Herrick, psychiatry chief of non-profit health system Nuvance Health, recommends finding purpose, without focusing on a specific outcome to avoid the feeling of delayed gratification. 

“Since it takes time, you tend to give up before reaching the result. So ask yourself, Why? Discover the real reason to motivate you. Remember: Early success inspires you to do more.”

Once the milestone and the purpose are identified, Dr. Herrick’s advice is to set realistic points for each component. “If you are more exhilarated, the more likely you will find the time to focus on them,” said the BWC. 

Resolutions are rarely accomplished in one go, let alone overnight. Thus, wearable fitness company Fitbit says, “come up with easy, doable tasks that will allow you to slowly reach your goal.” 

Want to be more active? Start by attaining a certain number of steps each day, then increase the steps and add more activities as you go. Looking to sleep better each night? Slowly adjust sleep schedule, and assess where changes must be applied. Wearing a smart tracker can help easily monitor these data and more.

Make a public commitment

This one could be a little tricky, especially for those who are not fond of making public announcements. But Dr. Herrick says doing this helps motivate a person to actually follow through. Besides, it’s pretty straightforward: “You avoid the feelings of shame and embarrassment if you deliver on your promise.” 

According to a time management firm, one third of ‘resolutioners’ don’t make it past the end of January, with 80 percent of resolutions—studies reveal—failing come February.

Making a promise known by others, the psychiatrist says, reveals that innate desire to evade letting others down. A public announcement is a simple way to hold yourself accountable. 

Find your community

If making a public commitment is not enough or not your thing, another way to help you power through those resolutions throughout the year is connecting with others who have similar challenges—this is your tribe, your community, so to speak. 

According to Dr. Herrick’s insights, as cited by the BWC, a person tends to adapt to the behavior of the people surrounding them—hence it’s vital to be around those who reinforce habits that assist in your pledges. 

Fitbit seconds this tip, further elaborating that a workout buddy increases the amount of exercise people will motivate themselves to do, especially when there’s a layer of emotional support. The wearable company offers its users way, via the app, to join larger communities and track their individual progress. 

Reward yourself

Motivational coach and author Tony Robbins emphasizes the importance of celebrating each goal with a reward. In an article published on his website (tonyrobbins.com), his team said, “by rewarding yourself in the moment, your brain elicits positive emotions, leading to the realization that your efforts result in a positive reward. By doing this continuously, your brain will start to link pleasure to accomplishing the task or objective and move towards it in the future.”

It’s also vital to never give up because of one slip-up. It’s better to lose your footing and stand up again, than staying on the ground.

Topics: New Year’s resolutions , Benilde Well-Being Center , De La Salle-College of Saint Benilde
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