NYE-2017-crop_ot4p0nA New Year’s resolution is something you’ve no doubt made at some point in your life. Maybe you resolved to exercise more, eat less, or cut out unhelpful habits. These nine strategies can help you turn a resolution made into a resolution kept:

  1. Build willpower.

    Willpower is like a muscle: The more you exercise it, the stronger it becomes. In fact, research has shown that participants who were asked to exert extra self-control for as little as two weeks by avoiding sugar were successfully able to kick bad habits later on.

  2. Make one change at a time rather than many changes at once.

    A lot of resolutions require several behavior changes. Take losing weight as an example. You have to eat healthy as well as exercise more. This, in turn, requires that you shop and cook differently. Start with the most urgent resolution, and then work your way down your list throughout the year.

  3. Make resolutions that require incremental change.

    Rather than having a goal of losing 20 pounds, create smaller goals each week that all work towards that larger goal. For instance, the first week you can make a goal of going for a walk three times a week or bring a healthy lunch to work rather than eating out. Not only will you feel good when you accomplish each goal, these small successes will help you stay on track.

  4. Try to have fun with your resolution.

    Did you know that engaging in activities that put you in a good mood actually strengthens your willpower? This is because they help you stay optimistic and strong.

  5. Don’t make your resolutions absolutes.

    Examples of absolutes include saying you’re giving up all sweets or you’re avoiding all alcoholic beverages or running 10 miles every single day. This just sets you up for failure. Instead, make resolutions with limited restrictions — avoiding sweets on weekdays, for example.

  6. List your past accomplishments.

    This can help you stay motivated. Write down at least 50 things you’ve accomplished to remind you of how much willpower you truly have. Read this list whenever you’re feeling unmotivated.

  7. Act compassionately.

    Altruistic acts can help increase your resolve. This is because engaging in altruistic acts increase your feeling of personal power, making it easier to stick with something challenging or uncomfortable.

  8. Use visuals to help reach your goals.

    If you’re trying to lose weight, for instance, try putting a picture of a slimmer you on your fridge or a picture of yellow teeth and aging skin if you’re trying to quit smoking. If you’re trying to save money, use a jar and fill it with money to keep you motivated.

  9. Know when you’ve become low-energy.

    Stress and lack of sleep can really test your resolve, and it’s important to recognize when you’re susceptible to weakness. During these times, it’s important to get away from whatever is tempting you until you’re well rested or not as frazzled to help restore your willpower.

No matter your New Year’s resolutions, write them down. Research has shown that someone who writes down her goals is more likely to achieve them.

Also, post your goals in places where you’ll see them often, such as in your office or near your computer.

Finally, share your goals with your friends; you’ll be more likely to accomplish them. Having the emotional support of others will increase your positivity and resolve.

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