What you need to stick with your New Year's Resolutions

It’s already a few weeks into 2020. How is your New Year’s Resolution? This is usually the time when excitement ebbs and good intentions begin to fray. It’s also possible that you are unwittingly sabotaging your efforts to complete your resolution. Here are four ways that you can increase your chances of sticking with your resolution and ultimately succeeding.

Make it Easier on Yourself

We all have a lazy person inside us, the part of us that craves ease and comfort. That person actively tries to talk us out of the things that are hard: going to the gym, running one more mile, doing one more set. In fact, one researcher found that just 20 seconds of “activation effort” was the threshold that stopped many people from accomplishing things. In other words, if you want to bike more often, you can’t keep the bike in the basement. Mentally imagining that trek down the stairs and back up can squelch your chances of taking a ride. If you keep your bike by the door, you are far more likely to use it. Now apply that rule to other aspects of your life in order to circumvent your inner lazy person. If you plan to get up early to train, pack your gym bag and lay out your workout clothes (or sleep in them!) the night before.  

Believe That it is Worth It

You need to believe that the changes you want to make in your life are worth the effort they demand. When the short-term comfort of watching TV or surfing the web gets in the way of learning how to play that guitar or training for a marathon, you need to aggressively change your headspace. Try this: a study published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology found that people’s biggest regrets involve things they failed to do in their lives. The researchers concluded that hurtful actions cause more pain in the short-term, but inactions are regretted more in the long run. It makes sense. No one remembers the sixth time they watched The Office, but everyone remembers crossing the finish line of a marathon. Tell yourself that someday you do not want to regret your inaction. 

Go Easy on Yourself

“Perfect is the enemy of good” goes the saying, and never is that more appropriate than in fitness. The great thing about any form of exercise, whether you are trying to lose weight or bulk up, is that something is always better than nothing. Forget perfection and stop berating yourself up for doing less than you hoped. Remember, you don’t train in a vacuum. The rest of your life has a profound effect on your workouts. A growing body of research indicates that willpower is finite. Using it can exhaust other mental functions. Maybe you took a lousy comment from your boss without saying anything back, you ordered a salmon salad for lunch instead of a steak burrito, and then you worked at night instead of hitting Netflix. On days like that it can be hard to dredge the mental energy to go the gym because the day has taken such a toll. Stop beating yourself up and plan for a better tomorrow. 

Be Patient

It might be well into March and you are still dragging yourself into the weight room while having serious withdrawals for your couch and TV. This is totally normal. A study published in the journal Health Psychology Review found that it can take around 66 days to create a habit that can actually challenge ingrained unhealthy behaviors. Keep telling yourself this: By deliberately making yourself do this healthy thing, you are on the road to making that thing so much easier.