People most commonly fail to stick to their New Year’s resolutions because they are too demanding, too vague or too unrealistic.
It’s the start of a new year, a time when many of us make promises to improve our lives. This is great, but many of us quit that daily Bible reading sometime in late January by the time we get to Leviticus. Or we soon get tired of the gym and start to sleep in. So what is it that makes a resolution “stick?” Here are some thoughts I picked up in Wall Street Journal article (Dec 23, 20140), by Dr. Judith Beck, Clinical Psychologist at the University of Pennsylvania.
The Stickiness Problem. Research shows that people will more likely “stick” with a resolution if the stakes are high. For example, if you are pre-diabetic, you will finally get serious about losing weight and not becoming a diabetic. Typically, people fail to stick to their annual goals because the resolutions are too demanding, vague or unrealistic. So don’t just say, “I want to have a better marriage.” That’s too vague. Instead, plan a date night once a week, or read a marriage book together, etc.
Make a Sabotage List. Take a piece of paper and write your resolution at the top. Now, make a list of all the things that could stop you from keeping your resolution. Things will happen that will derail and distract you. The idea is to plan ahead, and not be surprised by these attempts to distract.
“No-Choice” Category. We all decide to do some things out of habit, and give ourselves no-choice in not doing them. These are things like putting on our seatbelts, or brushing and flossing our teeth before going to bed. So we don’t have to struggle to do them. Dr. Beck says, “It’s the choice that makes sticking to a resolution so difficult.” So put positive behaviors on a mental “no-choice” list and reaffirm them daily. “If you never give yourself the option to eat dessert, you’ll never have the struggle,” she says.
Don’t Wait to Motivate. Taking action sparks motivation. Taking the first step to go to the gym may be difficult, but it almost always gets easier with each day. So congratulate yourself with constant affirmation as you put on your gym clothes. Also, devise an accountability system, like an app or a partner to help keep you motivated. When I was trying to lose weight recently, I decided to weigh myself once a week on Friday. I recorded the weight each week in a journal, and was able to look back after many weeks to see that I was meeting my weight goal. Using a Bible app like the Lifechurch.tv Bible can help you stick with a Bible reading goal.
Jesus said, “I have come that you may have life, and have it abundantly” (John 10:10). May this be a year where you finally turn the corner and become all that you were meant to be.