5 Tips to Make New Year’s Resolutions Stick for Success


5 Tips to Make New Year’s Resolutions Stick for Success

The whirlwind that was 2020 is finally ending, and like any new year, is bringing a multitude of resolutions and goals for the next twelve months with it.

Though devised with positive intentions and aspirations, most new year’s resolutions fail within a few months. Data from a University of Scranton study suggests that while 77% of New Year’s resolvers maintain their goals for a week, only 19% stick to them for two years. Athletes often hold greater familiarity with goal setting than the average person, but even they struggle to meet and maintain resolutions.

While for some people 2020 has allowed time for self reflection and revelation, others are simply hoping to leave the past behind with a new regimen. No matter the nature of the journey encountered this year, these five concepts will aid in creating effective and long-lasting New Year’s resolutions.

Align With Your Core Values

The goals people stick to are generally those that they connect to in a personal manner. Rather than focusing on superficial goals of being rich or a certain weight, think about how reaching this goal will make you feel and affect your relationships. 

There is likely a deeper reason for why you want to achieve this particular benchmark. If you value knowledge and learning, how will this goal help you to develop intellectually? If you value challenges and determination, how will your resolution grow and test your stamina in this regard? Strong goals often surpass social standards and help in developing support groups and independence alike.

When the temptation to abandon your goals becomes prevalent, focusing on your values and the deeper meaning of your resolutions will help you to stay dedicated to them.

Put the Pen to Paper

As simple as this step may seem, it can easily be dismissed as unimportant. Writing your resolution down will help in making your commitment more concrete.

Writing down a goal increases the chance that it is successfully encoded into long term memory, as explained in this Forbes article.  The process of writing a resolution down, as short as it may be, forces you to generate an image of the goal in your mind, helping to engrain it mentally.

When writing goals, it is beneficial to use positive language. Rather than writing “stop eating chocolate,” one could write, “eat one cup of vegetables a day.” Writing out the goals you want to achieve helps keeps your focus on what you should be doing instead of reminding you of the behavior you’re trying to cut out.

Get Down to the Specifics

Creating a broad, difficult goal isn’t a bad thing. In fact, reaching these huge achievements is what goal setting is all about. But it’s not enough to just create these objectives; a broad goal should flesh out all the details of the how and the when.

I think a lot of great athletes have a healthy amount of naiveté, where they set goals that seem almost overly lofty, but are determined to get there, and will figure out a way to get there,” said Olympic backstroker Natalie Coughlin in a 2015 interview with The Undercurrent. 

The ‘figuring out’ how to reach your goals is arguably the most important step here. Think about what reaching that lofty goal will look like for you. Whether it’s waking up earlier, adding extra cardio into your week or switching up your diet, a large goal can and should be broken into smaller “stepping stone” goals.

Making these smaller goals measurable is also incredibly important. These objectives must be specific enough that you can know for certain whether you have achieved them within a given amount of time. Plan out exactly what you will be accomplishing and in what time frame you will complete it.

Break the Perfectionist Mindset

Many athletes’ training helps them to endure hardship and continue chasing their goals even when they fail repeatedly. But others struggle with perfectionism and a tendency to be overly self-critical. Such behavior can easily bleed into goal setting.

Seventy-five percent of people who make resolutions “slip up” within the first two months according to John Norcross, Ph.D., a professor of psychology at the University of Scranton, in an interview with SELF magazine.

If you fail to complete a step in your resolution, don’t be discouraged. Instead, maintain a positive attitude and see if there is an activity you can substitute for what you missed. It is important to view slip-ups in the goal process as opportunities to prove your resilience rather than excuses to resign.

Share Your Goal

Finally, sharing your goal with other people increases your likelihood of success in the endeavor. By making family or friends aware of your aspirations, you feel more resolve and responsibility to complete these goals.

If a goal is especially difficult or tedious, ask a teammate to hold you responsible to completing it. Completing a goal with someone else can be advantageous as well, but should only occur if the goal is relevant and specific to both individuals. In most cases, it is better simply to confide in someone for purposes of support and accountability.

All commentaries are the opinion of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Swimming World Magazine nor its staff.