Jan 7, 2024 - Culture

How to keep your New Year's resolution

Illustration of "2024" written on four sheets of paper on a corkboard.

Illustration: Lindsey Bailey/Axios

So you've made it through the first week of 2024 with your New Year's resolution intact.

Zoom in: Now comes the hard part of keeping it going.

Details: Many people make resolutions as a way to mark time's passage and give it more meaning, University of Denver psychology professor Kim Gorgens tells us.

  • Common goals revolve around health-related achievements, including weight loss, increasing exercise and quitting smoking or drinking.

By the numbers: Gorgens says research suggests about 55% of people set resolutions, but less than half of those folks actually succeed in accomplishing their goals.

State of play: Fulfilling your goals is manageable if you follow some steps.

  • First, you need to be purposeful: If you say you want to accomplish something, try to schedule time in the day to do things that will help toward your goal; it can be in small increments.
  • Gorgens says it's easier to complete a resolution if you "hack" your brain's reward system: Instead of saying you want to do less of something, you need to tell yourself you want to do more of something else that's helpful toward your goal.

For example, if you want to lose weight, you will set yourself up to fail if you don't have targets.

  • Benchmarks don't necessarily need to be weighing a certain amount. Instead, they could focus on doing something else like walking more.

Of note: For fitness-related goals, it's important to set reasonable targets, University of Denver professor of sport and performance psychology Jamie Shapiro tells us.

  • "Be realistic and start out small. It doesn't have to go from 0 to 100," Shapiro, a former competitive gymnast, tells us.

Details: A workout for you could look vastly different than a friend's, so start with something workable that fits your needs.

  • Scheduling is a good habit to build, so planning a 10-minute walk around City Park of Cheesman can be a great way to start an exercise routine.

Reality check: Remember it takes time to see results, so don't get discouraged if you're not seeing the outcomes you expected.

Be smart: Share your goals with family and friends, because they can help you stay motivated, accountable and supported.

  • "Any other kind of resolution is really doomed if you don't build the kind of village you need to support the effort," Gorgens tells us.

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