Only around 12% of people manage to keep their resolutions for an entire year, making your dream body surprisingly difficult to reach. Thankfully, we’ve compiled a list of 5 of the best tips around to help make your New Year’s resolution actually stick. With these tips at your disposal, 2014 can be your fittest year yet.
1. Take Baby Steps Towards Your Goals
Big goals take time to reach, and failing to realize that is a surefire way of pissing yourself off and ditching your resolution in a matter of days. Saying ‘I want to improve my bench by 100lbs’ is a good goal, and achievable in the long term – but if you rock up to the gym on January 2nd and try and up your bench by 50lbs, or even 20, you’ll end up with bruised muscles and a bruised ego – at best.
Big goals require you to make smaller, micro-goals to help bridge the distance between start and finish. These little baby steps can be achieved in a matter of days and weeks, instead of months and years. For your ‘extra 100lb’ bench goal, try and increase your lift by a couple of pounds a week, or increase the amount of reps you can perform each session.
Record these little micro-successes, and when you start to get frustrated that you haven’t hit your 1 big goal yet, you can look back at the 10 small goals that you have managed. You’ll feel better about your progress, and you’ll keep on trucking.
2. Make Fewer Resolutions
As a general rule, the more resolutions you make, the less you’ll keep. Having one completely solid resolution is going to be a lot easier to achieve than having five, or fifty. Having lots of resolutions tends to make each individual goal seem less important and you’ll find it hard to focus on the ones that really matter.
If you want to squat 400lbs this year, don’t get bogged down in trying to calf-raise 200lbs, or trying to curl the big-ass dumbbells for 8 reps. If you have a bad squat day, you could spend the next few weeks obsessing over your calves and curls – and three weeks later, your squat won’t have budged. Prioritize your goals, and stick the ones that really matter.
3. Don’t Be Afraid to Suck
No matter how hard we want to achieve something, there will always be occasions when we don’t quite make it. Sometimes we pig out on takeout food, and sometimes we can’t be bothered to go for that 5am midwinter run – but there’s nothing wrong with that. As long as you don’t make a habit of these failures, it doesn’t matter.
Many people have one small failure, and use it as an excuse to give up on their resolutions, claiming them to be ‘too hard’. In reality, small failures will never undo your hard work, and you can still make incredible progress with the occasional failure. Similarly, it’s crucial to recognize when you’ve done something well.
If you manage to meet one of your smaller goals, have a day off or enjoy a bit of cheat food to celebrate. It won’t ruin your hard work, but it will make you happier and less likely to throw in the towel.
4. Get Super Specific
Setting a vague resolution will make it harder to stick to, and make it harder to reward yourself when you’ve succeeded. Wanting to lose weight is great, but how much do you want to lose? There’s a world of difference between losing 5 pounds in a year, and losing 50, and without being completely specific about your goal, you’ll find it much more difficult to measure your progress. If you want to lose weight, set yourself a specific amount to lose, in a specific amount of time – like ‘5lbs by February’.
If you want to get better at running, choose specific times each week to go for a run. Instead of saying ‘I’ll run every week, say ‘I’ll run every week, on Wednesday at 5pm and Saturday at 12pm.’ The specific goals don’t always matter, but simply having a fixed point in mind to aim all of your efforts at will help you to continue progressing week on week on week.
5. Write Your Goals Down
People that write down their resolutions are more likely to keep them. Behavioral psychologists attribute this to a subconscious need to be consistent with our past decisions. Writing a goal down allows our subconscious to become more determined to reach that goal, and can actually contribute to a 22% increase in our ability to keep a resolution.
At the start of the New Year, write down your most important resolution in your neatest handwriting, and stick the paper somewhere noticeable. Every time you look at it, you’ll increase your determination to meet your goals.
This principle can be used to further improve our chances at sticking to our resolutions. By telling your friends and family about your resolution, you’re increasing the subconscious drive to succeed, and live up to your words.