Issue 26pulse

New Year’s Resolutions

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By Noel Daniel

Although the saying “new year, new you” has lost a lot of its luster by now, it’s still one that rings true to this day. 45 percent of Americans usually make New Year’s Resolutions—but only eight percent are successful, according to a survey conducted by the University of Scranton. So how do you beat the odds?

First, let’s take a look at the top ten resolutions to get an idea of where the numbers come from:

  1. Lose Weight
  2. Get Organized
  3. Spend Less, Save More
  4. Enjoy Life to the Fullest
  5. Stay Fit and Healthy
  6. Learn Something Exciting
  7. Quit Smoking
  8. Help Others in Their Dreams
  9. Fall in Love
  10. Spend More Time with Family

They sound familiar, right? They’ve ended up on a fair amount of our own resolution lists. But the thing about the brain is that it is far more attuned to comfortable habits than the desire to change them. In that same survey, 39 percent of people in their twenties achieved their resolutions and only 14 percent of those over 50 were able to.

So the question comes back to: How can I beat those statistics? It turns out, it’s simpler than you’d think. We put together four easy rules for beating the resolution slump: be specific, be realistic, be scheduled, and be good to yourself.

Be Specific
When writing down your goals—and you must write them down—don’t forget a single detail. If you do, you leave room to make excuses. Instead of “I want to read more,” say “I want to read x amount of books in the next month.”

Be Realistic
If you hadn’t even looked at your running shoes until Dec. 31, don’t start with running—start with walking a mile, then jogging, then running. Starting out too fast and hard will burn you out and might just make you resent your resolutions.

Be Scheduled
Setting a schedule makes it easier to hold yourself to a new habit. Use a planner and map out your new routine to better stick to it. Your planner can act as your accountabilibuddy. You got it in writing, after all. It’s practically a contract now.

Be Good to Yourself
Make sure to treat yourself when you’ve kept up with a good habit. Don’t think that you have to ruin your hard work with a cake. Try new clothes, a new book, a massage, or a vacation—anything that you can look forward to will work!

Most important of all, decide why it is that these resolutions are so important to you. If you have a strong reason, your goals are that much more likely to succeed. Then you just find someone to tell about your resolutions and get to work!

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