The 3 Month Key to Keeping Resolutions
12/31/2012 12:00:00 PM
Ready for 2013?
Thing is, with those pesty resolutions, comes responsibility to follow through. I admit: not one resolution from 2012 came to fruition. By the time stress, tiredness, extra workload, fear, amongst other things came into play, it was December 2012! It takes three months for a behavior to become a habit, so Self.com mapped out a plan to keep us on track - despite the obstacles.
So let’s start with the first day: New Year's Eve
You think: "I'm going to spend less, work out more and get promoted." Creating a resolution that's too big or too vague sets you up for failure. The first key to success: zeroing in on one goal, not three. Then do a quick reality check. "Look at the level of commitment it will require to achieve, and consider if you'll be able to match it," says Larry Kubiak, Ph.D., director of psychological services at Tallahassee Memorial Hospital. Are you really going to be able to swear off chocolate completely? Unlikely. Limiting your Hershey's Kisses eating to a few times a week would be much more achievable. Which brings us to the second success tip: getting specific. "The more detailed you can be—'I'm going to save $30 a week by eating out one fewer meal'—the less difficult it is to stay focused on what you have to do to succeed," Kubiak says.
You think: "I'm staying mum about my goal in case I fail." Nearly one quarter of respondents in a SELF.com poll say they keep their New Year's goal on the down low. Bad idea. We're more likely to achieve our resolutions when we make them public, according to research conducted at the University of Hertfordshire. "Sharing our goals holds us accountable, so it's harder to back out," says John Norcross, Ph.D., professor of psychology at the University of Scranton. (And if you do stumble, no one will judge. We've all been there!) Enlist a few friends, and sign up at Stickk.com. You enter your goal, then send pals reports on your progress: "I lost 1 1/2 pounds this week!" You'll need to own up if you fall behind, but they can send encouraging notes to get you back on course.
You think: "My resolution is one more thing on my to-do list." At first, your goal was new and exciting, so you were inspired to make time for it; three weeks in, the novelty has worn off, says Emanuel Maidenberg, Ph.D., associate clinical professor of psychiatry at the University of California in Los Angeles. "If each morning you have to find a way to make your goal happen, you're more likely to decide based on whether you feel like doing it, which we rarely do," Maidenberg says. Plot out a monthly budget or schedule a week's worth of workouts each Sunday so you don't have to think about how to fit it all in. And attach your goal to another activity. For instance, if you want to meditate more, plan a nightly session for right after brushing your teeth. Done!
You think: "I'm not seeing big results. I might as well give up." If your focus is on the endgame, it's easy to feel discouraged when progress plateaus around the one-month mark, Kubiak says. That's why it's crucial to recognize and reward the smaller successes along the way. Rather than waiting until you've shed all 10 pounds, give yourself a mini "Yay, me!" celebration each time you drop 2. If your goal is to run a half marathon, don't save the party for the finish line. After each long run, reward yourself with a good book, new music or a night out with friends. To help you track important milestones along the way, use a journal: Self-monitoring has been shown to bolster resolve and keep you motivated by reminding you how far you've come.
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