Health & Wellness

Sparkt's Top 5 Tips for Keeping Your New Year's Resolutions

Changing your life for the better can be hard. But it can be easier with some of the tricks and tips we found.

Why do we fail at New Year's Resolutions even though we really want to make change in our lives?

Stanford psychologist Kelly McGonigal says one of the main reasons is something called "false hope syndrome." We vow to change, but when we discover it's difficult we give up and as a result we feel negative about ourselves. If we do this enough times we train ourselves to believe there's no point in trying to change. Here are some ideas to help you be successful if you're making 2019 resolutions.

Get a Resolution Buddy

There's nothing like having someone hold you accountable to your resolution when you feel like breaking or abandoning it. The website Swiftkick says there's actual science behind this idea.

"Studies show that something as simple as texting a buddy when you take an action toward your goal triples the rate of success."

Can't get out of bed in the morning to exercise? Find a neighbor or a friend at the gym and pledge to meet to walk or work out on the same day(s) and time(s). If one of you doesn't show up the other pledges to call or text to find out why. Vowing to start dating nicer men/women in the New Year? Pick a close friend and grant them permission to give it to you straight if you start going out with someone who isn't good for you.

Set S.M.A.R.T. Goals

S.M.A.R.T. stands for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Timely. It's pretty straightforward, but going through the exercise of putting your resolutions through a SMART evaluation will give you a better chance of actually achieving them.

For example "being happier" is not SPECIFIC. But planning to do something you enjoy once a week is. "Getting completely out of debt" this year when you have $10,000 on credit cards probably isn't ATTAINABLE. Pledging to increase the payments on your credit cards by $100 a month, or paying off one of those cards might be.

You get the picture. Financial advice radio personality Dave Ramsey has a planner on his website to help you with your SMART goals.

Frame it in the Positive

This idea comes from Natalie Bencivenga of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. She says instead of thinking in negative way about your resolution, i.e. "I look terrible, I need to lose 50 pounds," frame it with an attitude of gratitude. Natalie recommends repeating your positive phrase daily, out loud. For example: "I love my body. I am going to be grateful for the ability to nourish it with foods that energize and revitalize me." She predicts that doing this will make you mindful of (in this case, of dieting) what you're eating and may indeed cause you make healthier choices and lose weight. Plus you'll feel good about yourself.

Give Yourself Permission to Start Over

Everyone's heard the phrase "one day at a time." It's not just a catchy saying, but a way to make changing a bad habit more palatable, achievable and attainable. Vowing to quit smoking is a resolution a lot of people make at the beginning of the year. Sounds simple, but in practice the idea of quitting a bad habit for the rest of your life can seem impossible. But quitting smoking today is less intimidating. And if you break your vow on the second or third day, or a week later or a month, you might be tempted to just give up. Why not give yourself a break and just start over again?

Figure Out the Why Before the What

OK, this sounds kind of deep. But think about it: the "what" you want to do is easy: i.e. I will go to the gym at least three times a week. But it's the "why" that will keep you motivated and thinking long-term, says McGonigal the Stanford psychologist.

For example, maybe what you really want is to be fit enough to keep up with your kids or grandchildren. You know that exercising will help you achieve that goal, so you make a resolution to go to the gym three times a week. Then, when you feel like skipping your workout, you remind yourself how great it will be when you're tossing the football or going on a bike ride with someone who's special to you. That's the best motivation of all!

Click here to tell Sparkt about your New Year's Resolutions, past or present, and share it with friends for the chance to win an Amazon gift card.

(photos from Unsplash: Austin Schmid, Drop the Label Movement, Rawpixel)

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