Did you make a New Year’s resolution this year? If you did, you’re in good company; about half of us see the New Year as an opportunity to make changes in our lives and our health. Some of the most popular resolutions each year include losing weight, quitting smoking and exercising. Yet despite the best intentions, just under half of the people who make a New Year’s resolution keep them at least six months. In light of that discouraging statistic, it may seem like New Year’s resolutions as a rule are doomed to failure. But that doesn’t have to be the case; with a little planning it is possible to create a New Year’s resolution and stick with it.
First, be specific about what your goals are and how you will achieve them. One reason resolutions fail is they’re simply too vague. Like many of the other goals you set for yourself (because that’s what a resolution is really, a new lifestyle goal) it can be difficult to maintain commitment if you don’t have a clear idea of what you want to accomplish. So for instance if your goal for the New Year is to check your blood sugar more often, you can make this more specific by saying how many times a day you will check.
Along the same lines, make sure your resolution is realistic—just as vague resolutions are difficult to maintain, so too are ones that are overly ambitious. It can be tempting to try to make big changes, but if you try to take on too much too fast you may find it hard to keep up. Instead, see if there are any places where you can make small changes in your daily routine—such as taking the stairs rather than the elevator or including a serving of vegetables with your dinner. These small changes can add up to big ones over time. Be patient, and remember to reward yourself for sticking with it.
One last tip: apply the concept of SMART goals to creating your resolution. Choose one that is specific and easy to track progress, requires your active engagement, stays within your ability to achieve, and has a specific time frame for accomplishment.