A quick search on the internet for the most popular New Year Resolutions in almost every case comes up with a list of important and meaningful resolutions that have health and wellbeing at the top. It’s practically a fundamental principle across hundreds of websites that attention to health is the number one factor that determines our hopes for wellbeing and happiness in the future.
To illustrate, you can refer to the Statista chart of the top resolutions for 2022 in the US.
According to another scientific study titled “A longitudinal examination of New Year’s change attempts” by the University of Scranton, by the end of week one, already 23% of the resolutions had failed. By the end of the study, less than one in five of the volunteers was sticking to their resolutions. According to the study, “slips were typically precipitated by a lack of personal control, excessive stress, and negative emotion.”
In the following post, we highlight how New Year resolutions that relate to health, which are so important, can be made more attractive and effective. Just a few simple adjustments to behavior and expectations in the following ways can improve the outcomes.
What makes a New Year resolution stick?
An essential aspect of New Year resolutions is that they by definition require some changes in behavior. A resolution to “look after my finances” is hard to pin down. A resolution to “live more economically” achieves that same goal because it carries with it some definition of the required behavior.
Step 1 – making achievable resolutions
Being honest with yourself about where you are now and how far it is to your goal will help you achieve results. By moving forward with a clear target in mind, you will positively contribute to your health.
Make your New Year resolutions optimistic and specific, with both the goals and the rewards that will come with them. For example, simply saying “I will cut down on cigarettes” is likely to fall by the wayside quickly. On the other hand, providing a specific feedback loop that keeps you aware of, and reinforces, the resolutions will keep you motivated.
Step 2 – monitoring progress
Learned skills and readiness to change all contribute to positive outcomes for New Year resolutions. Successful resolutions primarily come from positive thought processes rather than awareness- and emotion-enhancing processes. It requires a better way of understanding experiences in the world, enabling changes to be made where needed based on your thoughts, feelings and behaviors.
Taking the example of smoking. Within a day, your heart rate should slow, and your blood pressure will become more stable. Within a week, your sense of taste and smell will also improve. By keeping tabs on these easy-to-measure results, you will be increasing the likelihood of sticking to the resolution. Steps like investing in a basic BP monitor, taking a reading regularly, and testing the changes to taste, will be the kind of positive feedback that everyone needs to stick to their resolutions.
Step 3 – feedback
Although New Year resolutions are about self-improvement, they will affect those around you. When your family, friends and colleagues are aware of your resolution to get healthy, it can expand your positive impact on others and, in turn, reinforce your own determination to see the resolution through to the end. When you focus on the future and on improvement, you will also inspire those around you.
New Year resolutions shouldn’t be set in stone, but rather be flexible enough to allow for adjustment based on progress. By choosing goals that have specific and measurable results, you will create the pathway for feedback and reinforcement. In cases of unexpected or unsatisfactory results, you will be able to see the warning signs and adjust. Potentially, you could get fully back on track, but even changing the goalposts while still playing the game can lead to winning outcomes.
Almost by definition, people are making New Year resolutions with a full expectation that they will lapse. Even though you may also have failed to keep resolutions in the past, all is not lost. There are ways to achieve more success, so it’s an excellent idea to go ahead even now and make resolutions anyway because some simple steps can reverse an unhappy history.
Hopefully, by taking the very simple steps we are outlining here, you will start off with the right resolutions, along with the proper motivation and readiness to see them through.