If this year has you struggling to follow your healthy resolutions, you're not alone. According to a widely cited statistic, only about 8% of new years resolutions succeed, with most of us not even lasting through February.
But a lack of immediate success doesn't indicate a future of failure. So if you're ready to step up and try again, here's our best advice on how to re-establish your daily food, fitness, and self-care habits.
Try smaller commitments.
Part of the reason so many goals fail is a lack of realistic clarity in their objective. The amount of people that can immediately go from from “zero to sixty,” i.e. transforming from an unhealthy lifestyle to one filled with new, hyper-aggressive rules like consuming only five grams of sugar a day, going to the gym 7 days a week, and meditating for 60 minutes every morning, is extremely slim. Instead, try breaking your commitments down into bite-sized components. Rather than creating strict rules you “must” follow all year, whittle the objectives down to month-long resolutions, which tackle one challenge at a time. Your first month can look like “a superfood smoothie a day,” or setting an earlier bedtime you can stick to to get a full eight hours of sleep each night. Tackling these micro-challenges is not only a much more fun approach, but it allows you to focus on and truly master new healthy practices, many of which will likely stick long after their daily quota period is over.
Create new habits.
Denial is a powerful deterrent to lasting change: we want what we can't have. To break unhealthy habits, psychological research shows we need to replace the habit with a new association. If you're trying to forgo alcohol, for example, it's enormously helpful to have an alternate plan for the time of day you'd normally pour yourself a drink. This new habit can look similar to the old habit (making yourself a special kombucha mocktail instead), or can become an entirely new association, like taking a walk around the neighborhood with your dog. Know exactly how you're going to replace your old habit before cutting it out, and you'll be much more likely to stick with your goal.
Build a checklist.
Checklists make decisions (or hard choices) easier. Like a roadmap for action, having a checklist in place will enable to you stay on track with your goals with more fluidity Trying to get to the gym more? Create a checklist of everything that needs to go into your gym bag, which you can pack the night before so you're ready to go in the morning. Want to fight inflammation with more superfoods in your diet? Create a checklist of the ten foods you want to be sure to include everyday, and keep it in the kitchen to remind you to meet all of your daily markers.
Join a community.
From having a partner in crime, to being a part of a group or team (either in person or online), community helps hold us accountable for our actions, and gives us a place to vent, relate, and learn new approaches. Set yourself up for success by finding at least one other person to join you or at least connect with while on your challenge.
Keep this as your focused motivation mantra: start now. Don't wait for tomorrow, or the beginning of the month. Life will always provide many excuses not to begin a new goal. If you want to make change, start right now. If you “slip up,” just begin again, with a “start now” approach. You are fully capable of achieving your wellness goals, the hardest part is just the start. Why not do it now?