CN Digital Studio
by Lexi Petronis, Glamour
Did you think you wouldn't have to hear the word "resolution" again until...2014? Nah, we may have made our health goals for the year five weeks ago, but that doesn't mean they're forgotten. Right?
Actually--according to a survey by Hampton Hotels, only one-third of people who make New Year's resolutions actually plan on keeping them all year long.
So I talked to Dr. Christine Carter, happiness expert (I so want that title) and author of Raising Happiness, to get some tips for those of us whose resolutions have started to falter about getting back on track. After all, we made those goals for a reason, right?
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Why we give up:
"Most people just bite off more than they can chew. We need to realize that willpower is an exhaustible resource--it gets tired, like a worked-out muscle. When we run out of willpower at the end of a long day, we can no longer will ourselves to do something, like exercise, and we have a hard time resisting temptations, like that chocolate cupcake. In reality, most people have lots of little slip-ups or bad days as they are learning to get into a new habit--but that doesn't mean that they won't eventually succeed."
Why we shouldn't give up (even though it's February):
"Remember why you made the resolution in the first place. Make a list of all the ways that you'll personally benefit from keeping your resolution, and highlight the reasons that are most motivating to you. Now, make a list of all the ways that other people will also benefit from you keeping your resolution. Post your list where you'll see it when you come face-to-face with temptation and think about quitting."
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How to jumpstart your willpower:
"Identify what drains your willpower and do your best to eliminate it. Stress, lack of sleep, and hunger all make our self-control go out the window, so if you anticipate falling short of achieving your resolutions, try getting ahead of that by setting aside time to get some exercise, going to bed earlier at least a few nights a week, or packing a snack for later. Decision-making can also drain our willpower, as can pretending to feel something that you don't--pretending that you're happy when really you're grieving, for example. Allowing others to help us make decisions, and giving ourselves time to be ourselves can restore our willpower."
How to get support from friends (and Facebook!):
"Social support is a critical component of how we make positive changes in our lives, and using a social media site like Facebook can really help because it makes your resolutions so public. Friends and supporters can boost your willpower by motivating you in ways that you couldn't do on your own--specifically complimenting and encouraging you when you have success. I advise people to 'gather a cabinet' of online friends to support you in keeping your resolution, and use Facebook, Twitter or another social media site to keep your cabinet up-to-date on your successes and struggles. What do you need help with? Be specific about how others can support you. Make a pact that before you give up on your resolution, you'll contact your cabinet first, and let them know what is going on (I keep a private Facebook page just for people who are in my online resolutions class to support each other)."
And how to really nail that resolution:
"If you're still having trouble consistently keeping your resolution now, in February, break your resolution down into much, much, much smaller steps. Make it ridiculously easy: if you're trying to exercise for 20 minutes a day, for example, start with exercising only 1 minute a day. (Really. This will increase the odds that you will be successful!) Sixteen percent of respondents to the Hampton Hotels survey believed the largest factor for their ability to keep their resolutions would be their ability to focus on small successes, and there's definitely some truth to this. Breaking resolutions into ridiculously small steps can help make something a habit, and can keep us from feeling overwhelmed."
So how are your New Year's resolutions going, anyway? Are you still on track?