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7 tips for making your New Year’s resolutions stick

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — As the world gets ready to welcome 2023, many people around the world are working on their New Year’s resolutions.

While making a list of goals for the year is exciting, it can be hard to keep that motivation going all year long. In fact, research shows that about 80% of New Year’s resolutions will be abandoned by February.

It’s easier to keep on track and meet your goals if you start out by answering one very important question, says Christine Whelan, a clinical professor in the School of Human Ecology at the University of Madison-Wisconsin.

“The best advice is to take a step back and ask, ‘Why?’ Why is it that you want to make a change? These are questions of purpose and values and meaning. Maybe you want to go to the gym and lose a couple of pounds. But why? If you can get to that core reason for ‘why,’ research finds that you are much more likely to actually follow through on your goals and make it happen.”

Whelan also suggests writing a letter to yourself each year on New Year’s Eve. Writing down where you are now in life, where you want to be, and your hopes for the year ahead can help keep you accountable, Whelan says.

7 steps for success

The secret to meeting your goals and making lasting change is to create new habits, according to researchers at Harvard Medical School.

Creating new habits can be hard — that’s why the team at Harvard put together a list of seven tips to help keep you on the track to success in 2023.

#1: Dream big

Audacious goals — like losing 50 pounds — are compelling. You can reach them through perseverance and the support of others, and your willingness to achieve bold goals will inspire others around you.

#2: Break big dreams into small-enough steps

It’s important to keep your resolutions realistic. Think tiny! Breaking big goals into smaller line items can help you tackle difficult tasks.

#3: Understand why you shouldn’t make a change

When you’re considering making a change, take time to think it through. You’re more likely to succeed when the balance of pluses and minuses tips enough to make adopting a new behavior more attractive than staying put.

Engaging in the enjoyable aspects of an unhealthy habit can actually help. If you like taking a break while smoking, go ahead and take that break — just find healthier ways to do it.

#4: Commit yourself

Make yourself accountable by writing your goals down — just as Whelan suggests — or sharing them verbally with people you don’t want to let down. This will help encourage you to power the tough times.

#5 Give yourself a medal

Don’t wait to call yourself a winner until you’ve lost 50 or finished that marathon. Changes, especially health changes, are incremental. You can keep yourself motivated by pausing to acknowledge the big and small successes along the way.

#6: Learn from the past

When you hit a snag — and you will — consider it a step towards your goal, then think about what did or didn’t work. Did you take on too big a challenge? If so, scale back — or break the big goal into smaller chunks.

#7: Give thanks for what you do

With exercise and fitness goals, you’ll benefit even when doing less than you’d like to.

If your goal for Wednesday is a 30-minute workout but you only get in 15 minutes, feel grateful for that. It’s enough. Tomorrow might be even better.