Another new year, another new set of goals to aspire to! As the new year begins, you might be excited and ambitious regarding your resolutions. But, as you may know from experience, resolutions don’t always pan out as one initially imagines. Many resolutions that may seem realistic in the beginning seem to fade away in a matter of weeks or even days. In fact, according to the Society for Personality and Social Psychology, only 9% of people report that they have been successful in reaching their New Year’s resolutions.
It can be disheartening and unmotivating to come to this realization, but that doesn’t mean that people should give up or scale back on their New Year’s resolutions. Those resolutions are achievable, it just might take a little more dedication and action than what was originally imagined. Keep reading for five ways to maintain motivation so you can accomplish your New Year’s resolutions.
Set Achievable Goals
The saying goes “Shoot for the moon. Even if you miss, you’ll land among the stars.” While that saying might be true in some instances, it may not be the case when it comes to your New Year’s resolutions. Setting realistic and achievable goals that are well thought out and planned appropriately can make or break that goal.
Research published in Health Education Quarterly discusses the importance of setting achievable goals in relation to maintaining motivation. Using dietary changes as an example resolution, the authors write, “Rushing into a goal to reduce the amount of saturated fat in your diet may be nonproductive or even counterproductive. Dietary behavior is highly complex, involving a moderate to high level of knowledge of one’s own eating behavior, problem foods to focus on, and dietary cues, among other factors.” In other words, make sure you understand the attainability of your goal, the steps needed to reach it, and the time required before committing to your goal. Otherwise, odds are you may be setting a goal that you don’t fully comprehend the depth of and will find it hard to maintain motivation to keep pursuing the resolution.
Create a Ritual
Old habits die hard. While that might sound like a problem in regard to making a change for your New Year’s resolutions, it can also be seen as a tool. James Clear, the author of the book “Atomic Habits: An Easy & Proven Way to Build Good Habits & Break Bad Ones,” discusses this in his article on how to build motivation. “How do some of the most prolific artists in the world motivate themselves? They don’t merely set schedules, they build rituals.” By creating strict, daily schedules that become integrated into your day-to-day life, it becomes harder to break away from them, thereby improving your motivation.
Some examples of that Clear gives are as follows. After waking up, Japanese writer Haruki Murakami writes for five hours and then goes for a run. Dancer Twyla Tharp makes sure to take a cab each morning to the gym and work out at the start of the day. So when you’re getting started on working towards your New Year’s resolution, try to create a ritual for it as early as possible. Maybe integrate it into your morning ritual or create a new evening ritual for it. This will improve your chances of achieving your goals.
When you first discover something interesting or begin to take part in something new, it can be super exhilarating to uncover all of the new information and novel ideas connected to it. For instance, playing a new instrument, starting a new hobby, or learning a foreign language can all be very exciting in the beginning simply because it is something new. But just as quickly, people often tend to lose motivation to continue following those new pursuits.
A question-and-answer article titled “The Motivation to Stay Motivated” from the journal Nursing Management addresses this issue through continuing education. “Another way to motivate yourself is to be exposed to new information. One of the most impactful ways to do this is to attend a continuing-education offering in which you’re gaining new knowledge. Learning is an extrinsic motivator that can increase your confidence.” By continuing to learn new information about your resolutions, you will stay interested and be more likely to maintain motivation and reach your goal. You could watch videos about the goal on YouTube, talk to others who share similar goals, or read about it in books and on websites. Methods like these can help you learn more about your resolution and therefore remain motivated to continue.
Reward Yourself Appropriately
Doing something new or different for a New Year’s resolution, while exciting, can be challenging at times. And when you may be the only one holding yourself accountable, it can be difficult to take a step back and realistically reflect on the steps you have taken toward achieving your resolutions. Taking the time to look back on what you have achieved so far and rewarding your efforts can make all the difference.
A study from the University of Jerusalem has demonstrated the effectiveness of rewards to maintain motivation. Participants in the study were asked to play a video game in which they would shoot down asteroids. These participants would only keep putting effort into the game when they were presented with incentives in their subgoals. For example, maybe your goal is to lose 75 lbs. Maybe every 10 lbs you get to take a bit of a break from exercising or treat yourself to a gift, like a massage or fun activity. Or perhaps you want to eat less junk food. Every 30 days you go without eating junk food, you can have a cheat day where you can indulge in a bit of junk food. Basically, by there being an incentive at every milestone, you will be more motivated to keep on going. So set up those subgoals and enjoy a little reward now and then!
There is no simpler yet more effective way to maintain motivation than by making your resolution fun. Dr. Bryant Stamford from the University of Louisville gave a series of tips on how to build motivation in his article “Staying Motivated to Exercise.” There he discusses how making exercising fun can help you maintain motivation. Whether it be teaming up with a friend for a workout or watching entertaining videos while at the gym, there are ways to make exercise more enjoyable.
Of course, the examples that Dr. Stamford gives relate to exercising; but you could extrapolate this strategy into other activities that are necessary for your New Year’s resolution. For example, if you want to learn how to play an instrument, don’t just teach yourself simple old songs like “Mary Had a Little Lamb;” rather, try teaching yourself songs that you actually enjoy listening to. Or if you want to eat healthier, try making leaner versions of your favorite dishes. It will make things more familiar and enjoyable. Adding elements of fun to your goals will make it easier to stay committed.
The ability to maintain motivation to achieve your New Year’s resolutions is not an easy feat, but there are strategies to help. By establishing achievable goals, it can be much easier to avoid failure. Creating a ritual around your resolution can make it easier to stick to. By continuously learning about your resolution, you can maintain intrigue and interest and therefore motivation. Regular and appropriate awards for milestones will act as an incentive. And lastly, make your resolution fun, so it feels like less of a chore and more like an enjoyable activity. With the New Year beginning, start things off on a meaningful note and consider donating to Educate. Radiate. Elevate. With the next semester beginning with the new year, your contribution can help students achieve their personal goals. Our highly-qualified tutors help disadvantaged students excel in their academics and prepare them for the future. Your donation can make dreams a reality for the next generation.