Eighty percent of people have abandoned their New Year's resolutions by the time February rolls around. If you've already put off going to the gym or you're hitting snooze on your alarm clock instead of getting up that whole hour earlier, you're not the only one.
New Year's resolutions fail for several reasons.
Let's say you're used to eating out for breakfast, lunch and dinner for convenience and suddenly decide you'll prepare everything at home with fresh ingredients, go vegan and cut your daily calories.
This is too much, too soon. Our brains don't like change, that's why habits take so long to form (and undo).
'I'll start going to the gym' might have been your resolution this year - it's a very popular one, especially among sedentary folks wanting to live a more active life.
The problem with a goal like this is that you haven't specified a way to measure your progress. 'Going to the gym' could mean going every day, once a week or once a month. How will you know how well you're doing?
Success is too far off in the distance
It's hard to visualise reaching your goal if the end results are a long way off. You're less likely to care about keeping up your new promises if it doesn't pay off quickly! Between now and then, it's easier for you to forget why you're doing it and make excuses to stop.
You're focused on the wrong outcome
Are you setting the same resolution as all of your friends so you can do it together, or someone you admire on social media's setting a resolution you want to copy?
Their true wants and needs are different to yours, so setting a resolution 'just because' is a waste of time. Don't change your life because you think you should, or because of what other people think. It won't keep you truly encouraged to see it to the end.
There is still hope for those with waning enthusiasm. Resolutions can be tweaked, so they're easier to keep up with. Here's how to stick with it until the end of the year and beyond.
Break it down into shorter goals
An effective way to keep on track with a longer term goal is to break it down into bite sized chunks.
Not only are they easier to complete because you aren't throwing yourself in at the deep end, but you'll feel excited and filled with a sense of achievement every time you tick one off! For example, instead of promising to quit smoking cold turkey, you could first reduce the number of cigarettes you have each day, then cut out of your most craved cigarettes, then seek help for quitting and so on, leading to your eventual, smoke-free goal.
If you need help for your long term goals, try this quiz, How to Set Goals.
Make it enjoyable
Don't jump on a treadmill every day for an hour because you think you should. Sure, if you love pounding the electric pavement then go for it! But there are many fun methods of getting more active without resorting to a boring or strict regime that's easier to break.
Walk the dog for longer on weekends, join a fun dance class or just stick on some tunes and jump around the house each day after work.
Make sure it aligns with your lifestyle
This goes back to choosing resolutions because of some external reason, which isn't enough to keep you on track.
For example, making home made meals every single day might work for someone with more free time than you, but if you're too busy to do it, you won't stick to it. Instead of abandoning your resolution all together, try compromising.
Why not make one meal a day at home instead, or choose two days a week to have all home cooked meals? If you find it easy to make smaller changes, you can add more as time goes on.
Focus on positives, let go of failure
When you're trying so hard to make a resolution work, especially when you've failed so many times in the past, it's easy to forget about everything positive you DO achieve. We can be so focused on the end results that everything else seems insignificant.
But think about the amazing things you do change for the better whilst you're trying to achieve your goal! Keeping a daily journal works really well for this. Try to write down three positives each day, no matter how small, then before long you'll look back and realise how far you have come. Better than throwing in the towel!