At the start of every new year, millions of people take some time to take stock. The beginning of a new year is a fresh start, and a great opportunity to look back at where you’ve been—and plan ahead for where you’d like to go.
At this time of year, many people set down the goals and aspirations they want to accomplish in the year ahead, commonly thought of as New Year’s resolutions. However, many ultimately have trouble living up to the expectations and goals they set for themselves at the start of a new year.
What makes it so tricky to stick to resolutions? And what can you do to put yourself in the best possible position for success this year?
New Year’s Resolutions, by the Numbers
According to a report from Forbes, more than 40 percent of Americans say that they make New Year’s resolutions each year.
Among the top resolutions? At the start of 2018, Statista released a report revealing America’s favorites. Here are a few of the most common resolutions that people included in their New Year’s “to-do” list:
- Eat healthier (37%)
- Get more exercise (37%)
- Save more money (37%)
- Focus on self-care (24%)
- Read more (18%)
- Learn a new skill (15%)
Do any of those sound familiar? There are a lot of good resolutions on that list, all goals that could help you to lead a healthier, happier life.
But if you’re a perennial New Year’s resolution maker, you know that actually sticking to your goals long-term can be difficult. Studies say the same. In fact, estimates suggest that only about 8–9 percent of people actually accomplish their resolutions each year. By one Business Insider report, roughly 80 percent of New Year’s resolutions fold by February.
It begs the question . . .
Why Do So Many New Year’s Resolutions Fail to Stick?
New Year’s resolutions can be hopeful, fun, and inspiring. They’re a great chance to lay out where you’d like to go in the months ahead. But at the same time, they can be stressful, writes clinical psychologist Joseph J. Luciani, Ph.D. And making your resolutions last will take one big change upfront: a change in your thinking.
As Dr. Luciani puts it for U.S. News & World Report:
“Unless you first change your mind, don’t expect your health goals to materialize. As the saying goes, ‘it’s not the horse that draws the cart, it’s the oats.’ It’s not the gym, Pilates class, or diet that will change you—it’s your mind.”
In other words? Developing the right mindset is key to creating lasting, meaningful changes, like the progress most people hope to achieve with their New Year’s resolutions.
Fitness coordinator and health writer Elizabeth Kovar agrees. As she notes in a post for the American Council on Exercise (ACE):
“With so much focus on diet and exercise, many clients forget about their mindset, which makes or breaks their fitness efforts. Initiating a fitness journey can be tough. But with the right mindset, clients can achieve their fitness goals as their path unfolds.
Of course, becoming mentally fit takes time. Many clients have to overcome adversity, which in turn strengthens the mind. Those who strengthen their mindset enhance their overall outlook on life, from belief systems to self-efficacy.”
So, at the start of a new year, if you want to focus on physical or lifestyle changes, experts agree: one of the best ways to get started is to focus on training your mind. Adapting a positive, resilient, and healthy mindset is a way to kickstart many other aspects of your life, and truly ensure that you’re setting yourself up for maximum success in the year ahead.
Adopting a Healthier Mindset in the New Year
What are some ways to get started updating your mindset for success in the year ahead? Here are five simple, expert-approved tricks that can help you make the most of your New Year’s resolutions:
1.) Think “Small” and Set Realistic Goals
Remember that the start of a new year is a great chance to make changes—but you don’t need to accomplish your loftiest goals all at once. Be realistic and think about setting more achievable goals, and you may be setting yourself up for greater success in the future. As Dr. Luciani explains:
“In order to guarantee success, don’t challenge yourself with a pledge that you’re not sure you can handle. If, for example, you’re not sure you’ll stick with going to the gym five times a week, then don’t promise yourself. Better to do the best you can than to fall short and wind up jeopardizing your growing capacity for believing in yourself.”
2.) Write Everything Down
One of the most effective things you can do to set yourself up for success is to put your goals and ambitions down in writing. As Stephanie Moulton Sarkis, Ph.D., explains in Psychology Today, studies show that you are much more likely to achieve a goal if you write it down first. And there are plenty of other benefits to journaling about your goals, your progress, and even your setbacks. As Elizabeth Kovar points out, consistent journaling has been tied to benefits including reduced stress, improved problem solving, and increased self-understanding.
3.) Set Boundaries
Setting limits can be one of the most productive things you ever do—and, as Dr. Sarkis points out, it’s also “one of the most courageous things we can do.”
While she notes that it may be challenging to initially set boundaries and begin saying “no,” the payoff can be great, particularly when you begin to limit “activities that are unhealthy for you, or make you not feel good about yourself.”
4.) Accentuate the Positive
It’s easy to beat yourself up for not quite reaching your goals. But learning to accept and grow when you fall short, and focus on the positive changes you are making, can be empowering, productive, and healthy.
“No one’s life is without negatives,” writes Dr. Luciani. “The key is to train yourself to focus on the positives . . . Positives may be eclipsed by a habit of pessimistic negativity, but keep looking: they’re there.”
The start of a new year can present an excellent opportunity to train yourself away from a habit of negativity. Kovar encourages those looking for the bright side to “surround yourself with positive messages,” such as writing down inspirational or meaningful quotes for yourself.
In that same vein, certified meditation instructor and public speaker Tamara Lechner encourages surrounding yourself with supportive people. As she writes for Chopra:
“The best thing you can do is spend time with people who inspire you to make positive choices. When you surround yourself with peers who celebrate your success, it will encourage your continued progress.”
And when you do fall short or revert to old patterns? “Instead of berating yourself, be grateful that you noticed,” Lechner writes. “Wanting to change is the first step, so have gratitude that you recognize there is change to be made. If you fall off the horse, get back on and try again.”
5.) Know Your Priorities
Dr. Sarkis asks, “Take a hard look at where you spend your time. Are you getting a return on your investment of your time, money, and energy? Or are you reaching a dead end?”
As you head into a new year, it’s important to be self-reflective, and work toward making the choices that will benefit you the most. It can be difficult to get started, but the rewards can be enormous.
One benefit? As Dr. Luciani explains, cultivating “critical awareness” can allow you to “shed light on your destructive, reflexive habits and thinking and on any self-sabotaging mind games at play.”
Understanding your priorities can also help you to determine when your wants and needs are not being met, and adjust course. As Lechner puts it:
“Even if you’re surrounded by great people, with a clear goal and built-in rewards, the human tendency can be to let your personal wants and needs fall to the bottom of the list . . . Just like flight attendants say, ‘put on your oxygen mask before helping your children.’ You have to make sure your needs are met before you can take care of others.”
What Are Your Hopes for the New Year?
And now, the Enrollment Specialists would love to hear from you. What’s on your list of New Year’s resolutions for the year ahead? Have you found any mindset routines that help you to make the most of your time and energy? We’d love to hear your thoughts!
Are health and life insurance at the top of your New Year’s “to-do” list? Remember, the Enrollment Specialists are here and ready to help.
Led by our founder and CEO, Matt Peebles, the Enrollment Specialists can help you find the unique policy that will best serve your needs, whether you’re searching for Medicare Supplement insurance, a group health plan for your business, or individual insurance for yourself and your family. Our custom-built plans can help you make the most of your yearly fresh start—while also whisking away the stress that comes with figuring out insurance on your own. Ready to get started? Drop us a line today to begin the conversation.