How many New Year’s resolutions have you made? What if you could choose only one? Well, one of the keys to keeping your resolutions is to limit them. It makes sense because, really, do you think it’s wise to give up chocolate and Diet Coke at the same time?
So, zero in on your biggie, and look over the rest of the 7 keys to keeping your resolutions.
1. Willpower = Muscle. A psychologist at Florida State University, Roy Baumeister, says that the part of the brain responsible for willpower needs to be thought of, and treated as a muscle. So, before you take on a resolution, make sure your brain is well-rested and well-fed.
2. Keep it Simple. If our willpower is limited—and whose isn’t?—then it makes sense to zero in on our resolutions one at a time. So, if you want to eat fewer sweets, tackle that first before you also pledge to make your bed every day.
3. Get Specific. One year, an iMOM we know decided to read more. Instead of just making her resolution to “read more,” she got specific. She said, “I will read one classic fiction book a month.”
4. Little Changes—Big Impact. Sure, we’d all love to be wildly successful at our big resolutions, you know, losing 20 pounds, exercising five days a week, or cooking a delicious dinner every night. Sometimes, though, it’s the little things that can make a big difference in our overall life. Here’s an idea: get at least 7.5 hours of sleep a night. Not that hard to do (come on, tear yourself away from the computer), but it pays big dividends. You’ll be more patient with your husband and children, and you’ll look more rested too!
5. …Try, Try Again. John Norcross, a distinguished professor of clinical psychology at the University of Scranton in Pennsylvania, found that the people most successful at keeping their resolutions actually had slip ups along the way. Instead of giving up when they slipped, they kept on trying. Even if you don’t keep your resolution perfectly, you can still succeed if you don’t let your set back defeat you.
6. The Next Best Thing… Norcross also says that successful resolvers come up with a substitute for things they might be giving up. So, if you want to give up your nightly bowl of ice cream, figure out in advance what you can have instead. You’ll also want to modify your environment to help you succeed. Want to avoid that bowl of ice cream? Don’t have it in your freezer in the first place.
7. It’s Not a Sprint. When it comes to resolutions, according to Norcross, most people overestimate how much they can do in the short run, and underestimate how much they can do in the the long run. So, stick with your little changes each day, and eventually they will add up to big changes.