This time of year, many of us are thinking about the goals and resolutions we hope to reach in the new year. But keeping those goals might be another story. Researchers have found that almost 30% of New Year’s resolutions fail after just two weeks and by month three, half of us have given up altogether.1
While that isn’t exactly uplifting to learn, it does offer an opportunity to think about how we’re going about setting our goals in the first place—and whether what we’re doing is ultimately allowing us to succeed or fail. If you’re hoping to become stronger, happier and healthier in 2022, read on for our tips to help you stick to those New Year’s resolutions and benefit your life for years to come.
1. Talk with your primary care doctor
Make sure you’ve set realistic health goals by first talking with your primary care doctor. Let them know what you’d like to accomplish and ask if those goals are achievable given your current state of health. If they aren’t realistic, your doctor can help you determine ones that are more appropriate.
2. Small steps = big changes
Taking on too much too quickly is a common reason why so many New Year’s resolutions fail. Starting an overly restrictive diet, overdoing it at the gym or radically changing your normal behavior or routine are surefire ways to derail your plans from the get-go. Instead, focus on taking smaller steps that will incrementally help you achieve your larger goal.
For instance, if you want to lose 50 pounds, breaking that goal down into monthly or weekly increments can increase your success rate. You might begin by swapping out your daily soda for seltzer or replacing your latte with green tea and doing 10 minutes of cardio every other day for the first seven days. At the end of the week, you’ll have achieved success, which will help boost your confidence to take on the next goal in week two, then week three and so on.
Remember: Small wins over time can add up to big success!
3. Create a routine
It’s often said that humans are creatures of habit. But before you can form a new habit, a behavior done with little or no thought, you’ll need to first master a routine. A routine involves repeatedly performing a series of behaviors frequently and intentionally. Routines can feel a little uncomfortable at first, as they require concerted effort, but if you stick with them, eventually they’ll become habit. The key is to make them specific enough so that you can begin to plan your day around your new commitments.
For example, instead of thinking, “I’ll meditate every day for 10 minutes when there’s a break in the day,” try committing to a specific time in your day when you know you’re not busy: “I’ll meditate for 10 minutes each morning at 7:30 a.m. for a week.”
4. Don’t get discouraged
Setbacks can occur on the path to any goal. If you set a small goal but don’t end up achieving it, that’s OK! The key is to not give up. Give yourself the gift of being an imperfect human being. Then, give yourself the gift of trying again.
Remember what noted psychologist B.F. Skinner said about handling failures: “A failure is not always a mistake, it may simply be the best one can do under the circumstances. The real mistake is to stop trying.”
5. Buddy up
Who doesn’t need and appreciate words of encouragement when trying to meet a goal? Find a friend or family member who would like to achieve a similar goal to you. That way, you’ll have someone you can talk to about any challenges that arise and move past them together. You’ll also have someone you can support (helping others boosts our own happiness) and share your wins with.
6. Enjoy the journey (or at least try to!)
Rather than worrying about how difficult it is to reach your goal, try focusing on the wonderful little details that make up the path to achieving that goal.
If you’re starting to walk in the mornings, listen to the birds and watch the sky turn colors. If your goal is to de-stress, buy some candles that smell good and light them while meditating. Remember the words of encouragement and smiles that people in your support system offer you along the way.
7. Don’t let sickness derail you
There’s nothing like an unexpected illness to veer even the most consistent routines and habits off course. Feel better, faster (and get back to crushing those New Year’s resolutions) with Teladoc. You can connect with a U.S. board-certified doctor by phone or video 24/7 for non-emergency conditions like the flu, sinus infections, allergies, sore throat, stomach bug and more. Here are all the ways Teladoc can help you stay healthy.
Updated January 1, 2022