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Give your resolutions a second chance
But making resolutions is the easy part. Sticking to them for the next 365 days is where it starts to get a little tricky. Most of us will see our New Year resolutions fail before the calendar turns to February. In fact, research shows it takes just nine days for us to give up on our dreams for the year. So, as we enter February, we take a timely look at how to reignite the passion you felt on January 1, and how you can make your resolutions stick, second time around.
A year long study by the University of Hertfordshire in the UK found the key to keeping your resolutions depends on the methods put in place to help you reach them. The research, which was lead by Professor Richard Wiseman, also found that different methods work best depending on whether you’re a man or a woman. For men, setting a specific goal, such as ‘lose ten kilograms by April,’ rather than just ‘lose weight,’ works best. Women, on the other hand, ‘benefit from the social support provided by friends and family,’ Says Wiseman.
Making New Year resolutions at the last minute can also cause you to fail, warns Wiseman. This is because such spur of the moment decisions can often be less genuinely motivated. ‘If you do it at the last minute, it probably doesn’t mean that much to you and you won’t give it your all,’ he says.
A study by the Journal Of Consumer Research found that writing out a detailed plan worked well for participants when they focused on a single goal. When they focused on multiple, competing goals, the detailed plan was less effective. Wiseman also agrees. ‘Many of the most successful techniques involve making a plan and helping yourself stick to it,’ he says.
Here, we share some of Professor Wiseman’s secrets to success:
– Avoid previous resolutions – This is because revisiting old resolutions can often lead to the same disappointing results. ‘Failing to achieve your ambitions is often psychologically harmful because it can rob people of a sense of self control,’ he says.
– Break your goal into a series of steps – Successful participants who took part in Wiseman’s study broke their goals into small steps, rewarding themselves when each stage was passed.
– Expect to revert to your old habits from time to time – A small set back every now and then is almost inevitable. Rather than giving up your resolutions treat failures as minor setbacks.
– Reward yourself – To maintain motivation, treat yourself to small rewards each time you complete a step of your plan.
– Remind yourself of the benefits associated with achieving your goals – This will keep you determined, with your eye on the prize.
So whether your New Year resolution involves losing weight or spending more time with your family – follow these tips and you will be well on your way to making 2013 ‘your year.’