As the calendar turns to a new year, many people start to think about the changes they would like to make in their lives. New Year’s resolutions are a tradition many people have participated in but unfortunately, sticking to resolutions is harder than you might think. There are many things that can get in the way of someone who is unprepared to make a major change, so we have seven experts weigh in on how to blast through the obstacles that stand in the way of making resolutions really stick.
1. David L. Katz, MD, Founding Direct of Yale University Prevention Research Center
Remembering the real goal of behind the impulse to make changes is important – ultimately, you want to enjoy a better life. Dr. Katz says, “Health is not the prize – a better life is the prize.” Keep this in mind when the going gets tough.
2. Mike Roussell, Ph.D., Author of The 6 Pillars of Nutrition
This nutritional consultant knows all about how tough it can be to make wise food choices. He gives this bit of advice to people wanting to make changes: “I write my resolutions in a daily planner, then review and re-read them each day when I sit down to check my calendar.”
3. Michelle Gielan, Author of Broadcasting Happiness: The Science of Igniting and Sustaining Positive Change
Choosing activities that are fun rather than a chore makes them easier to do. For instance, this positive psychology researcher has this advice. “Instead of making exercise a chore, I do what makes me happy. For me, that means a twice-weekly dance class at my gym.”
4. Larry Kubiak, Ph.D., Director of Psychological Services at Tallahassee Memorial Hospital
Making a resolution that is bigger than you can realistically achieve is a big stumbling block for many people. Instead of trying to bite off more than you can chew, Dr. Kubiak has this advice. “Look at the level of commitment it will require to achieve, and consider if you’ll be able to match it.” You can also break big goals down into smaller components and work towards achieving those.
5. John Norcross, Ph.D., Professor of Psychology at University of Scranton
“Once your behavior starts to feel routine, it’s easy to assume you have this in the bag and can let down your guard.” This means that tracking your progress is actually very important. Instead of tracking your new habits for the first few weeks, be sure to stick to this habit and record your efforts. Then you can look back and have an accurate view of how far you have actually come.
6. Samantha Heller, Author of The Only Cleanse
“Once you realize how hard your body is working to keep you alive 24/7, it makes sense to support it,” says this registered dietician and exercise physiologist. Cultivating a grateful attitude towards your body helps you feel positive about the changes you are making.
7. Darya Rose, Ph.D., Author of Foodist
The author of Foodist: Using Real Food and Real Science to Lose Weight Without Dieting counsels people to go easy on themselves. Making big changes is hard, especially when we want to see results right away. “I view all new habits as an experiment,” she says.
Ready to Make a Change?
The new year is the perfect time to start making positive changes, whether it is eating better, exercising more, spending less money, or being a better friend. You can stick with your positive ambitions by using a bit of psychology and positive thinking along the way. Make changes that truly inspire you, pursue activities that you genuinely enjoy, keep track of your changes, and plot your progress in small stages rather than as one large monolithic achievement. These are just some of the ways that the next New Year really will be a great one.