For many of us the new year signals a time to make a ‘fresh start’. It is when we make resolutions with the best of intentions to make our lives better. We often make a good start sticking to our resolution in the first week, however by February, research tells us that almost half of us will have given up on our new year pledge.1 So, what increases the odds of us realising these important changes in our lives…?
If you are the kid who could resist the urge to sneak chocolate before dinner, then you have probably found that using a good dose of willpower helps you achieve your goals. But what do we do when our resolve is low?
- APPROACH IS EVERYTHING: Let’s start with the goal! Research found that people that set goals that are realistic, specific, and approach-orientated (i.e., move us towards vs. away) are more successful in achieving their new year’s resolution.1 Let’s say we are concerned about our physical health and diet. If we made a resolution to “stop eating chocolate” this would be an avoidance-approach. In comparison an approach-orientated goal would be “I will eat a healthy diet”. To make it realistic and specific we might resolve to, “I will eat 5 servings of fruits and vegetables 5 days a week”.
- BELIEVE IN YOURSELF: How much we believe in our ability to achieve our goal can also impact its success. When we rate our ability out of 10 and our rate is less than 10/10, we can increase our goal success by increasing our self-belief. We can ask ourselves what we can learn, think, or do to increase confidence in our ability to achieve our goal. Then we can integrate some confidence-building ‘baby steps’ as interim goals within our major goal. Giving ourselves some consistent ‘self-rewards’ when we reach each mini milestone is another great feel-good confidence booster!
- RALLY SUPPORT: The old proverb, “it takes a village to raise a child” applies here. When we think of our goal as ‘the child’ we can nourish that goal with the support of family, friends, and mentors. When we enlist the ‘village’ we can supply ourselves with the type of people who can motivate, guide, help, and provide resources that contribute to us achieving our goals.
Enjoy the process of creating your ‘fresh start’ and living happy and healthy!
1 Oscarsson, M., Carlbring, P., Andersson, G., & Rozental, A. (2020). A large-scale experiment on new Year’s resolutions: Approach-oriented goals are more successful than avoidance-oriented goals. PloS One, 15(12), e0234097-e0234097. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0234097