After a year in which many things familiar were turned upside-down, there’s one time-honored tradition that opens 2021, as it does the start of every other year: the making of New Year’s resolutions. Research shows that about half of all Americans resolve to lose weight, save more money and spend less, be a better partner and person, be more organized—or any other type of personal improvement—in the new year. However, fewer than one out of 10 of those resolvers carry through with those good intentions.
The issue is not so much making resolutions but finding the motivation to stick to them. And so, Healthy Living News offers what we call Motiv-Eight—eight tips to motivate you to stay the course of whichever resolution you’ve made for 2021.
1. Guilt is good
Part of any behavioral change is to create new habits. For instance, you might get into the habit of walking on a treadmill for 20 to 30 minutes a day. But creating new habits takes time and effort. As you take these walks, you may tire of the routine, but you may feel guilty if you stop. Good. Embrace that guilt and turn it into an incentive to continue.
2. Build a support system
Social support is critical. Don’t be embarrassed to announce your intentions. Tell your friends and family about your resolution. Start a Facebook page about your goal and post regular updates. Seek out others who share your goal. Knowing that you’ve “gone public” with your resolution and that people can follow your progress will keep you on track. And when your progress lags, talk to your supporters. They’ll boost your spirits and encourage you to get back to your goal.
3. Learn from failure
If and when you fail, think of it as a step toward your goal. Think about what did and didn’t work and make a change to move forward. Let’s say you took on too big a challenge. Then scale back to a less ambitious one, or break your original large challenge into smaller steps. For example, if your daily 30-minute walk doesn’t happen, break that down into three 10-minute walks at different parts of the day.
4. Note your progress
A fundamental principal of psychology is, “if you can measure it, you can change it.” Take measurements—weight, time spent exercising, money saved or spent, for instance—of where you are at the start. Note the changes over time. These measurements will identify flat spots in your progress so that you can adjust how you proceed with your resolution. They will be a source of motivation as you reflect on where you started and where you are.
5. Make time; write it down
People often say they can’t find the time to do something—but everyone chooses how to spend their time. Choose wisely. If you have a fitness goal, schedule time for workouts. If you want to save money, schedule a weekly budget review. Write these times down on a calendar or planner—as some might say, “If you don’t write it down, it won’t happen.” Think of these time blocks as important, just like a doctor’s appointment or other critical part of the day.
6. Start anew
When all the above fail to energize your commitment to a resolution, maybe it’s time to start fresh. Take a little break, reflect on why your resolution derailed, and—like falling off a horse—get back on. Which leads us to this next closely related tip:
7. Start whenever
There’s nothing preventing you from beginning your resolution at a time other than New Year’s Day. It could be Valentine’s Day. Or your birthday. Or any other day of significance to you. Yes, a new year generates fresh-start feelings that motivate people into making resolutions—but we don’t need to wait until the new year to start on the path to personal improvement. Other times of the year can be equally motivating.
8. Listen to Coach Lombardi
Football coaches are known for motivational speeches before games or at halftime. One of the most famous of these coaches is Vince Lombardi, who coached the Green Bay Packers to the first two Super Bowl wins (the trophy has since been named after him). He’s quoted as saying, “It’s not whether you get knocked down; it’s whether you get back up.” So when your resolution knocks you down, be resilient. Get back up. Don’t turn a temporary failure into an excuse for giving up. Acknowledge the problem and recommit to your goal.
There’s our Motiv-Eight. Be resolved to have a happy New Year.
Dennis Bova is a freelance writer and editor.