Let’s talk about Res’ baby, let’s talk about New Year, new me.
Now that we’ve gotten the Salt-N-Pepa classic stuck in your head, it’s time for some resolution real talk: from the get-go, most New Year's goals simply set us up to fail. In fact, studies show that less than half of New Year's resolutioners keep up with their goals through the end of the year, and a staggering 1 in 10 throw in the towel before the end of the month.
With odds like that, we decided to do some resolution research to find science-supported strategies to help us stick with and achieve our New Year’s goals. If you’re ready to kick off a fresh year with fresh habits, read on.
Focus on What You Want MORE of
When it comes to setting New Year's resolutions, many of us take a “stop & drop” approach, meaning that we focus on all the things we want to stop doing or the weight we want to drop. While identifying ways we want to improve our lives and our health is a great first step, research shows that taking an approach-oriented direction with New Year's resolutions is tied to a much higher rate or long term success compared to those directed towards avoidance.
Instead of choosing resolutions that focus on what you want to cut out, the weight you want to drop, or the habits you want to break, instead, set your sights on what you want and need more of in your life. Goals like eating more fruits and vegetables, including more daily movement, reading more books, spending more time outside or with loved ones, & of course, drinking more high quality water, are all examples of approach-oriented goals that can contribute to a healthier, happier version of you.
When it comes to New Year’s goal setting, the devil is in the details. By establishing basic parameters with our New Year’s resolutions, we’re significantly more likely to stay committed.
Pairing basic cues like when and where you’ll work on or toward your goal increases the likelihood that your resolution will become a habit. For example, instead of saying “this year, I want to drink more water”, level up with “this year, I’ll drink at least a glass of water with every meal & snack”. With a few additional details, you’ve taken a vague idea and elevated it so that you have a roadmap that encompasses the what, the where, & the when-all of which help to establish an association between your goal and specific times that come up in your daily routine.
Write it Down & Shout it Out
Time and time again, research has shown that we’re more likely to achieve our goals when we write them down and state them out loud. When we take the time to jot down what we’d like to achieve, we encourage what neuropsychologist refer to as “the generation effect”, a phenomenon in which individuals are more likely to recall something that they’ve generated themselves versus something they’ve passively perceived.
When we take the time to write down our goals and resolutions, we encourage encoding, a biological process in which information from the outside world is taken in & analyzed by our brain & ultimately retained in our memory. By writing out our resolutions, we keep our goals at the forefront of our mind, which in turn, bumps up our chances of sticking with it over the long run.
Another way to boost our adherence to resolution-focused behavioral changes? Stating your goals out loud to someone you respect and feel personally motivated by. Research has shown that individuals are more likely to commit to and achieve their goals when they discuss it with someone they perceive as having a higher status than themself. By involving someone we admire in our goal-setting process, we add a layer of accountability that inherently sets the stakes higher than had we kept it to ourselves. More often than not, an outside source of accountability will double as a support system when you need it & a cheering squad when you achieve what you’d set your sights on.
To all the goal-getters & fresh-starters out there, this year, rev up your resolutions with these simple (but impactful) steps to help you stick with & achieve those big, scary, beautiful goals & level up your life.