Half of Americans who made New Year’s Resolutions in 2021 resolved to exercise more and 39% resolved to eat healthier food. This is a typical pattern. Gen Z is more likely to list looking for love and dressing better among their resolutions, but other age groups focus largely on health, with resolutions including drinking less alcohol or soda, quitting smoking, sleeping more, and losing weight.
But most of us don’t keeper resolutions. This year, plan ahead to increase your chances of success.
Think it through
Say you get up on January 1st determined to exercise more. Will you be ready to jump right in, or will you need to do research, check with your doctor, find a gym, buy some workout gear, or find an exercise accountability partner before you can succeed?
Do the preparation now and be ready to give it your all on New Year’s Day.
Do the problem-solving
Research suggests that the people who are most likely to stick with their goals are those who have solutions for the problems that come up. Planning ahead is one way to make sure you’re in that group.
For example, you might want to cut back on sugar in the new year. If you have non-sugary breakfast foods in your kitchen on New Year’s Day, you’re way ahead. If Frosted Flakes is the only breakfast food you have on hand, you’re making things harder for yourself.
Think about the challenges that might come up for you:
- You might go to a party.
- You might have leftover Christmas cookies on hand.
- A coworker might stop by with goodies.
- Your family might decide to go out for ice cream.
- Your spouse might tease you about eating in a new way.
Then think of possible solutions:
- You might go to a party… but you can take a tray of fresh fruit to the host.
- You might have leftover Christmas cookies on hand… but you can pack them up and share them with a neighbor.
- A coworker might stop by with goodies… but you can share the exciting news that you have resolved to cut out sugar and not eat any.
- Your family might decide to go out for ice cream… but you can suggest a healthier alternative outing instead.
- Your spouse might tease you about eating in a new way… but you can kindly ask them not to tease you, but to be supportive.
Having thought through some solutions, you will be prepared for possible obstacles, and less likely to be sidelined by them.
Take the long view
While you’re preparing for your resolution, think past January 1st. Quitting smoking is hard. If that’s your resolution, talk to your doctor about ways to quit.
Be prepared to need some help and support, and maybe to recommit more than once as you work toward your goal. That way, you won’t give up in January. You’ll know that you have all year to work toward your resolution.
Then celebrate your progress. Announce when you’re one week smoke-free on your social media and bask in the congratulatory messages. Calculate what you saved by not smoking (or smoking less) for one month, and splurge on something you’ll enjoy.
Plan milestone celebrations for your resolution and put them on your calendar for next year.
Preparation will increase your chances of success.