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Five top tips for successful New Year’s resolutions

Kelly Smith
Yahoo Lifestyle
24 December 2012

For many of us the New Year represents a new start where we'll shed all our bad habits and start afresh. But unlearning what we've done for years takes time and by the end of January many of our resolutions have fallen by the wayside. To stop that happening this year, follow our five rules for achieving your New Year goals:

1. Make clear, realistic resolutions

You can stick to your resolutions this year ©Rex
You can stick to your resolutions this year ©Rex

If you want to stick to them, make your resolutions realistic in the first place. Don’t give yourself wild targets that will be a huge struggle to keep and make sure they’re not too vague. Being healthier is a good idea generally, but instead of giving yourself this wide aim try pinning it down to one or two things you can do to make your life healthier. When you’ve achieved these goals, add a couple more life changes. Taking it one step at a time will give you a much bigger chance of success.

[Related: Five big impact, easy-to-keep New Year health resolutions]


2. Don’t make too many

Your willpower is a precious commodity and if you’re using plenty of it up on one resolution, it’ll be incredibly hard not to break another. According to Roy F. Baumeister and John Tierney in their book ‘Willpower – Why self-control is the secret of success’, exercising willpower causes your brain to consume more glucose than normal so don’t, for example, quit smoking and go on a diet at the same time. Order your resolutions by priority and concentrate on following through on the most important first.  Once these behaviours become habit, you will find it easier to more onto new goals.

3. Stagger your resolutions

If you’re after a whole new you, look at 2013 as a year to change, rather than cramming everything you want to take up or give up into the month of January. Think about where you’d like to be by this time next year and work out a timeline.

Giving up smoking will give you far more than you're mising out on ©Rex
Giving up smoking will give you far more than you're mising out on ©Rex

[Related: Expert tips to strengthen your self control]

Weight loss is the perfect example. Don’t crash diet and try to lose three stone as quickly as possible. Instead, give yourself a series of small weight loss targets that will see you achieving your goal weight in six, eight or even twelve months’ time. This will mean healthier and more sustained weight loss and should ensure that next year you won’t have to make the same ‘lose weight’ resolution over again.

4. Be positive and concentrate on end goals

Instead of thinking that you’re giving up, quitting or losing, think about your resolutions in positive language. You’re not giving up particular foods, you’re resolving to eat a wider, healthier diet. Rather than giving up smoking, you’re taking the first step to give yourself a whole host of other activities to enjoy once you’re fitter.

Changing your diet can be exciting, rather than challenging ©Rex
Changing your diet can be exciting, rather than challenging ©Rex

Look towards where you want to be in a month, six months and a year and see your resolutions as stepping stones on the way to becoming that person.

[Related: Foods to recharge your batteries]

5. Write them down

Stay on track with what you’re aiming for and how you’re doing by writing down your goals and reviewing them every week with comments on how you’re getting on. This will focus you on what you’re trying to do and celebrate your achievements. It’s also a good way to giving yourself the chance to ‘start again’ if you have a wobble. It will also help you look back and note any triggers or problems that need to be tackled so you can achieve your ultimate goals.

What are your New Year's resolutions? Tell us over on Twitter using #YResolve

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