6 Ways to Make Your New Year's Resolution Stick

The keys to not abandoning your goals come February.

January 9, 2017
New Year's Resolution goal setting
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Adapted from Yuri Elkaim's book, The All-Day Fat-Burning Diet

If you need proof that positive change is often a lost cause, look no further than your New Year's resolutions. Most of us believe that when the clock strikes 12:00 on December 31, a magical motivational switch will flip in our brains, allowing us to finally lose weight, get organized, or save more moneyThis year, we say, everything is going to be different.

The stats tell a very different story, and a depressing one at that: 45 percent of people set a New Year's resolution, but only 8 percent of them actually achieve success.

More: 5 Inspirational Steps to Take in the New Year

Despite our lip service to change, most of us don't go much further than halfheartedly mentioning our resolutions to a friend or writing them down, if we do that much. By the time March rolls around, we're right back where we started, if not worse.

It comes down to this: Successful change is all about your mindset.

In 2002, John Norcross, PhD, professor of psychology at the University of Scranton in Pennsylvania, found that readiness to change, or how prepared a person is to enter the action stage of behavior change, is the single best predictor of success in keeping New Year's resolutions. I'm going to double down on that and say it’s your best predictor of success at any time, in any aspect of your life. In my experience, it’s really all that matters.

More: 50 Healthy New Year's Resolutions You Won't Regret Making

In his research on New Year's resolutions, Dr. Norcross also found that “resolvers” reported higher rates of success than “non-resolvers.” At 6 months, 46 percent of the resolvers were continuously successful, compared to 4 percent of the non-resolvers. This goes to show that the simple act of setting an intention or goal is a big step toward achieving it. As the old adage holds, "All change begins within"; now we have proof. 

To make sure that your resolution is successful, follow these important steps:

2017 goal
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Get crystal clear.

To get started, get very clear about exactly what you want. Once you can see it and feel it, write it down and attach a deadline to it—otherwise it's simply a pipe dream that might happen "someday," a day that may never come. Review your goal every single day. Keep it visible. Attach images to it if you like and post it on your bathroom mirror or your fridge. Keep it in your wallet or put it on your smartphone.

More: 8 Guidelines for Successful Goal Setting

Repetition is the mother of mastery, so you need to repeatedly show your brain what you want so it can help you make it happen. Moreover, keeping your goal around you at all times will constantly remind you what to work on to make the big picture become real; it's easy to lose focus when life is bewilderingly hectic.

grocery shopping
Plan and prepare.

Figure out what you're going to have for dinner this week and then get everything you need from the grocery store. If you work out first thing in the morning, get your workout attire ready to go and load your favorite workouts and playlists on your phone the night before. By making a plan, you can avoid those last-minute pitfalls and excuses. As the old saying goes, "If you fail to plan, then you plan to fail."

happy going to work
Start your engine.

It's worth asking: How do you feel right now? You might find this line of questioning puzzling, but it's really important. Although it's easy to overlook, your state (your physiology, how you feel, etc.) will predict the action you take and thus the results you achieve. Conversely, it can also predict which action you won't take and the results you'll fail to achieve.

More: 10 Commandments of Successful Fat Loss

Make yourself big and powerful because, when you do, you put yourself into a state of being ready for action. If you don't feel like working out, raise your hands in the air in celebration or jump around while you listen to the theme song from Rocky. It's impossible not to feel better after that. It's time to get to work!

friends working out
Get social support.

The road to a personal breakthrough can be a lonely one, so surround yourself with positive people who will support you on your path. Head to social media, where you can join support groups who know exactly what you're going through. If social media isn't your style, then at the very least recruit some friends to join you on this journey. But be careful to choose only those who will elevate you. You become who you spend the most time with, so choose wisely.

cleaning fridge
Create a winning environment.

Environment will always trump willpower. No matter how committed you are to your goals, if you’re hiding stashes of chocolate, ice cream, or other tempting foods around the house—no matter how far out of sight—you will eventually eat them. 

More: 6 Fat Triggers That Are Halting Your Weight Loss

One of the best things you can do to combat this is to declutter your surroundings. A cluttered environment leads to cluttered thinking and less than ideal behavior. To let go of the weight, you need to let go of the junk. So, go through your fridge and pantry and toss all the packaged junk that won't support your health and weight-loss goals.

Remember, how you do anything is how you do everything. If your environment is a mess, your life is likely a mess as well. A clean house (and a decluttered kitchen) leads to a clean body. 

lacing up sneakers
Take massive action.

The final step to burning fat, improving your health, and achieving anything else you want in life is to take massive action. Nothing replaces action. Nothing.

There’s no way around it: You’ve got to put in the work. However, as daunting as that may sound, it’s how you put in the work that makes all the difference. When we do work that produces great results, we feel good about ourselves, and that builds further momentum.

Find more ways to reset your body and mind for successful weight loss in Yuri Elkaim's book The All-Day Fat-Burning Diet.

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