Most of us make New Year’s resolutions, but it’s no secret that by early February many are already broken. 80 percent of people, in fact, according to U.S. News.
But it doesn’t have to be that way. It’s time to change your attitude and shift the way you look at those annual promises to save more money or be more productive at work.
Breaking those big goals down into much smaller, and more achievable, milestones will help you stick with your resolutions. They’re called “microresolutions.”
The science behind microresolutions
BJ Fogg, PhD., a behavioral scientist at Stanford, explains that changing behavior isn’t as difficult as you might think. According to him, “Relying primarily on motivation to change your behavior long-term is a losing strategy.”
Instead, he says, the key to creating habits lies in meeting small goals every day. Additionally, you should associate your new tiny behavior with an action you already do.
Watch him explain it in his Ted Talk clip: “Forget big change, start with a tiny habit”
Let’s apply the concept of microresolutions to four popular New Year’s resolution goals.
If your New Year’s resolution is to lose 20 pounds, try setting a weight loss goal of two pounds a month. By the time the next new year dawns, you will have exceeded your original goal, and the small milestones will have kept you on track.
If your goal is to exercise more, skip the expensive gym membership and lace up your sneakers instead. Walk around the block once this week, twice the next week, and so on. As a result of building up your stamina and your confidence, you’ll ramp up your exercise routine and get fit in a slow and steady manner.
Resolutions involving healthy eating can work in much the same way. Instead of abandoning the Twinkies and shifting to Brussels sprouts, try making smaller changes that will ultimately be more sustainable. Drag out your old food processor and mix up some healthy greens, then incorporate them into everything from meatballs and hamburgers to pasta sauces and casseroles. You will increase your vegetable consumption without feeling deprived or slipping back to your old unhealthy ways.
Saving more money
Even if your goals for the coming year are more monetary than dietary, you can still use the same microresolution strategy to achieve success. Saving $1,000 in the coming year may seem like a daunting task, but saving $3 a day seems far more reasonable. If you follow your $3 per day savings plan, you will have accrued more than your $1,000 goal by the time December 31 rolls around.
You don’t need an all-or-nothing approach to your New Year’s resolutions. Instead, try setting microresolutions. By rewarding yourself for those small behaviors, you’ll see how much more likely you are to achieve your goals.