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How to Successfully Keep Your New Year’s Resolution: 10 Science-Backed Tips for Long-Term Success

Unlock the Secrets of Lasting Change: Proven Strategies Based on Scientific Principles to Achieve Your New Year’s Resolutions and Sustain Progress

By Olivia L. DobbsPublished 2 months ago 6 min read
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How to Successfully Keep Your New Year’s Resolution: 10 Science-Backed Tips for Long-Term Success
Photo by Marten Bjork on Unsplash

New Year’s celebrations have come and went and we are, once again, on a precipice of a new beginning. On this momentous occasion, it’s almost poetic to begin anew, motivated to grow with the impending spring growth.

But, New Year’s Resolutions have become the butt of many jokes. From common abandonment, to fully forgetting goals by November, it can feel useless to even make an effort at all. When done correctly, however, setting a resolution can be life-altering. People who figure out the resolution formula can use this age-old tradition to grow toward being how they strive to be.

This year, make a difference in your life. Here’s how you can make sure you succeed:

Set Realistic Goals

Resolutions stick when goals are grounded and easy to track. Wanting to be happier is lovely, but without a plan to get there, or a way to know whether you’re making progress, that goal will fall flat before February. It’s like embarking on a journey without a map; sure, the destination is appealing, but without a clear path there, it’s much harder to actually reach it. When you determine your resolutions for 2024, select a reasonable goal that takes into account your resources and capabilities.

Further Reading: The Science & Psychology Of Goal-Setting 101

Be Specific

An excellent way to make a resolution attainable is to fully understand what success will look like at the end of 2024. Picture what you want out of your efforts. Are you hoping to read more? Consider how much you read in 2023, and specifically define how many more books you want to get through, or how much more time you want to spend reading. The more detailed this aspect of the approach, the more likely you’ll be able to stick with it throughout the year.

Further Reading: The Science Behind Smart Goal Setting

Break it Down

Once you have a good understanding of the specifics of your goal, the next step is to consider what that goal will look like on a monthly, weekly, or even daily basis. Take time to batch out your goal, it will make the idea of completing it by the end of 2024 feel much more manageable. In addition, this step to resolution making will also make it much easier to track your progress and celebrate milestones along the way — more on that later!

Further Reading: The Complete Guide to Goal Setting (Backed by Science)

Track Your Progress

When you know your goal for 2023, plan to mindfully track your progress at least once a month. I recommend setting at least a weekly check-in for yourself, but this varies, depending on what your resolution is.

It can be incredibly helpful to break your large goal into monthly chunks (or less!). If, for example, your goal is to read 25 books this year, aim first for finishing 2 or 3 in January. Goals are easier to accomplish when they can be broken down into smaller chunks. They’re even easier to continue when you know precisely how many chunks you’ve managed to get through already!

Further Reading: Frequently monitoring progress toward goals increases chance of success | ScienceDaily.

Stay Positive

Practicing optimism and positive thinking isn’t just a trite suggestion from your acquaintances and random internet folks, it truly does have power behind it. Focusing on the highs instead of the lows can keep your mindset about the resolution in a happy place, which is more motivating in the long run. Even if you do encounter setbacks, which is more likely than not, practice viewing them as opportunities to learn and readjust because of them. Viewing setbacks and obstacles as failures have been scientifically proven to lower morale and decrease chances of success overall.

Further Reading: The Science Behind Positive Thinking & Rewriting Your Brain for Success

Find a Support System

Use peer pressure to your advantage! Telling someone, or a group of people, close to you about your intention will make it feel more concrete. On top of the pressure you’re putting on yourself, the chance that someone will ask after your progress occasionally will be a great motivator through your journey. Additionally, working through a positive life change with people you care about can make the whole process more enjoyable!

Further Reading: The Importance of a Strong Support System | Ultimate Medical Academy.

Celebrate Milestones

Celebrate the little victories along the way — it will increase your likelihood of success by a large margin! Pat yourself on the back for the drawer you were able to declutter, rejoice that you remembered to reach out to that old friend you’ve been missing. Every little bit of progress makes for a better you.

Even if you don’t hit your year-end goal, any bit of effort toward it can help make you happier and healthier. Celebrate the little steps and the small victories. Seeing your progress along the way is an incredible motivator that will make it more likely you’ll be able to stick with your resolution throughout the year.

Further Reading: Celebrate to Win.

Be Patient

No matter how you view it, permanent change from a resolution will take time. Patience is key to sticking to New Year’s resolutions — and to setting realistic expectations for yourself. A year’s worth of progress will not happen overnight. Through it all, stay committed and act persistently. A good New Year’s Resolution is about the journey — trips, falls, and detours included — not just the destination.

Further Reading: The Neuroscience of Patience.

Incorporate Enjoyable Activities

Your New Year’s resolution doesn’t need to make you feel miserable. When selecting your goal for the year, consider your interests, passions, and long-term goals. Before setting up your plan for the year, check in with yourself and make sure your goal is something that you want, and not just something you think you should want or something that you want to want. Approach your resolution in such a way that it isn’t just good for you, but satisfying too! This method won’t just make the process more enjoyable, it will also increase your likelihood of success.

Further Reading: 8 Health Benefits of Having Fun

Reassess and Adjust

Life’s unpredictable, and something might just get in the way of your goals. An intention to go to the gym weekly could be thwarted by an injury, or a move or change in career could throw a massive wrench in your plans. In cases like these, don’t push yourself too hard. Don’t feel bad about having to adapt — it’s part of life.. 2023-you have no way of predicting the chaos that 2024 might bring your way. And, if we’ve learned anything from the last few years, unpredictability is the norm.

Further Reading: The role of uncertainty intolerance in adjusting to long-term physical health conditions: A systematic review — PMC

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The journey to achieving a New Year’s resolution is a dynamic one; it necessitates adaptation within and throughout the process. Using the science-backed insights above, you’re now several steps closer to navigating these adaptations (Your commitment to setting a goal and reading through this blog to learn more were the first and second, you’re a good way along your journey already!).

Here’s to a fulfilling and successful year ahead — may it be marked by your success in your aspirational pursuits. As you step into the future, remember that you can turn your resolutions into enduring achievements. Cheers to a transformed and empowered you!

Happy New Year! ❤

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Crossposted from Medium. Follow for new STEM articles every Friday!

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About the Creator

Olivia L. Dobbs

Science Enthusiast, Naturalist, Dreamer.

Check out my science! -> bit.ly/DobbsEtAl

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