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Many of us see the new year as an opportunity to leave all our flaws and insecurities behind and start a new chapter in our lives. During the holidays, we give ourselves a free pass to all our indulgences and focus our motivation to reset the timer on January 1st.

Some of the most common resolutions on our wishlists include weight loss, quitting smoking, traveling, saving money, and spending more time with our loved ones.

However, most New Year’s resolutions fail. Research shows that only 19 percent of people keep their resolutions. By the end of January, most of us abandoned our intentions and go back to our old habits.

But there’s some good news. While many of us don’t achieve these goals right away, people who set New Year’s resolutions are 10 times more likely to change their behavior than those that don’t have annual objectives.

Why Do Most New Year’s Resolutions Fail?

How to keep New Year’s Resolutions | New Connections Counseling Center, Baltimore, MDIt’s not easy to stick to our resolutions. You probably felt confident and full of enthusiasm in the first few days, but as time goes by you experience a drop in your motivation. Maybe you find yourself looking for excuses not to go through with your plan or begin to doubt that you will be able to endure it.

There is an explanation for this. Our brain is wired to cling to patterns and routines. We are biologically conditioned to thrive on certainty and familiarity. This means that getting our brain to recognize an action as a new pattern connection needs a lot of repetition of that particular behavior. New habits are hard to form as well as old habits are hard to break.

So, why do we go on with this new year tradition? Setting new goals releases endorphins that relieve pain and stimulate feelings of happiness. Also, when we accomplish our goals, our brain releases dopamine, a neurotransmitter that makes us feel good.

Now, the question that remains is: how can you avoid your New Year’s resolutions from failing this year?

5 Tips for Keeping Your New Year’s Resolutions

1. Make your goals more specific

Setting New Year’s Resolutions for 2022 | New Connections Counseling Center, Baltimore, MDIt’s quite common to go for resolutions like “get in shape”, “eat healthier” or “be more productive”. However, these goals are very ambiguous and hard to measure. You might end up not being able to tell if you are reaching your goals or not, and giving up on them altogether.

Try to turn your resolutions into more concrete and achievable ones. For example, instead of “doing more exercise” try something like “I want to go to the gym 2 times a week”. This way you will have a clear and realistic target to aim for.

2. Narrow your resolutions list

We all have a long list of potential New Year’s resolutions that we would like to conquer at once. Although, research tells us that, to achieve long-term success it’s best to focus on just one behavior at a time.

In reality, expecting a complete change in a single year is unrealistic. Moreover, it can put you under a lot of pressure and make you feel more anxious and stressed.

So, start by focusing yourself on one specific resolution and break it into smaller and feasible steps to work on throughout the year. Remember that establishing new behavior patterns takes time and consistent effort.

3. Gather your support team

Support for achieving New Year’s Resolutions | New Connections Counseling Center, Baltimore, MDDon’t keep your resolutions a secret. Rather, share them with family and friends and count on them to help you through the process. Having a solid support system can improve your motivation and accountability.

In addition, you can join a group of people that shares your goal or find a loved one or like-minded person that wants to reach that same objective. This kind of mutual support can make the whole challenge more fun and also motivate you to stick to the plan.

4. Reward yourself along the way

It’s important to give yourself credit for every small step that gets you closer to your goal. So, make sure to celebrate your successes with enjoyable moments (as long as they don’t contradict your resolution). These rewards can help you stay motivated and renew your sense of accomplishment.

If you are struggling to keep this new habit or doubting why you are putting yourself through this, remind yourself of the reasons you are doing this. Make a list of everything you will gain by achieving your goal and value every change, no matter how small it may seem to you.

5. Accept that failure is part of change

Conquer New Year’s Resolutions | New Connections Counseling Center, Baltimore, MDChange doesn’t happen overnight. Keep in mind that the habits that you are trying to break took years to form, so don’t expect them to simply disappear in a matter of weeks or months. Mistakes are part of the process, it doesn’t mean that you’re destined to fail.

Be patient and keep going. Even if you make a misstep, you can always start over and continue on the path toward your goal. Try to learn from past failures and turn them into opportunities to grow stronger and do better.

What if Your New Year’s Resolutions Do Fail?

If you feel that you are about to give up on your resolutions, remember that sometimes the difference between failure and success is focusing on the right goal and the small steps you can take to achieve it. Achieving New Year’s Goals | New Connections Counseling Center, Baltimore, MD

Most importantly, be understanding and flexible with yourself. Change is hard and it takes time. Set yourself up for success by preparing first. If now isn’t the right moment, you can give it a little more time and launch your goal when you feel ready to commit. Delaying your resolutions is better than abandoning them altogether.

Once you feel confident and prepared, go for it. You will have more motivation and willpower, and your resolutions will be more likely to thrive.

Find Professional Counseling in Baltimore, MD

The experience of resolution setting doesn’t have to be an annual disappointment. If you have been feeling stuck and frustrated about failing your resolutions, you could benefit from professional help.

Our therapists at New Connections Counseling Center will help you refocus on the changes that are important to you, and work with you to overcome any difficulties that are getting in the way of your success.

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About the Author:

Cathy Sullivan-Windt

Psychologist (Ph.D.) & Owner

Cathy is a licensed counseling psychologist with almost 20 years of experience. She specializes in women’s counseling, anxiety treatment, sexual assault recovery, life transitions, and relationship issues.

In her free time, she enjoys spending time in nature, traveling, reading, and being with her family and friends.

Read More About Cathy

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