What happens when we give our resolutions a rest?
Did you set New Year’s resolutions for yourself this year? If you did, you’re not alone. Roughly one third of American adults will set some kind of New Year’s resolution.
In her book How to Change, Katy Milkman discusses the psychology behind New Year’s resolutions and why we make them. One reason? We love the idea of a fresh start. Feeling like we’re starting a new year with a clean slate can help many of us commit to better habits.
But that same “clean slate” may be one reason why New Year’s resolutions are so hard to stick to. In fact, as many as 91% of all Americans will fail at their resolutions.
If starting the new year with a clean slate helps us embrace a new habit, what happens when we inevitably fall short? Maybe you miss a workout because work got busy. Or maybe you overspend on your weekly budget. Or maybe you opt for a burger instead of a salad at dinner time. Suddenly, our fresh, clean slate has been spoiled and we give up completely.
So how do we stick to the habits we want to embrace all year long? Here are a few tips that might help:
Treat every new day like a “new year”
If fresh starts are so powerful for helping us change, then we can bring that same mindset to every new day. So what if you fell short yesterday? Treat today like a brand new day and a new opportunity for a fresh start.
Follow the 80/20 rule
People are imperfect, and it’s time we embrace our imperfections. You don’t have to have good habits 100% of the time to make progress towards your goals. Instead, follow the 80/20 rule. Make good choices 80% of the time. Give yourself grace for the other 20% when life happens. And remember tip #1—tomorrow is a new day and an opportunity to start again.
Connect to your “why”
New year’s resolutions can often get wrapped up in the unhealthy idea that we’re not good enough. To make sure you’re changing for the right reasons, spend some time connecting to your “why.” Maybe you want to be more active so you can enjoy your grandchildren. Or maybe you want to budget better so you can enjoy retirement. Whatever your “why,” remember that you are worthy of love and acceptance exactly as you are.
“To know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived. This is to have succeeded.”
– Ralph Waldo Emerson