Skip to content

Health & Balance

10 Ways to Make Your New Year's Resolutions Stick

10 ways to stay strong in the face of tempting cupcakes, pricey shoes, and the urge to hit the snooze button instead of the gym.
Font Size
A
A
A

1. Give It a Workout continued...

To try this at home, squeeze a grip strengthener (available at sporting-goods stores for under $10) or a rubber ball till it becomes uncomfortable, then hold as long as you can. Repeat at least twice a day. Or, flex your self-control emotionally by trying not to tear up during a sad movie.

Just don't expect to become the Wonder Woman of Willpower, advises psychologist and study author Mark Muraven, Ph.D. As with a muscle, push too hard or under conditions that are too challenging, and your resolve (like an overworked hamstring) will collapse. "If you're very hungry, I can't imagine that any amount of willpower will keep you from eating a cupcake," Muraven says.

2. Make One Change at a Time

Once you understand that you have only a limited amount of willpower, it's easy to understand why multiple resolutions aren't likely to work, says Ian Newby-Clark, Ph.D., a psychologist at the University of Guelph in Canada. Most resolutions actually require many behavior changes. Sure, some are straightforward, like remembering to take a calcium pill every day — but a successful weight-loss program, for example, calls for more than just a decision to eat less. You have to shop and cook differently, start or ramp up an exercise routine, maybe even ditch certain social or family events. "Thinking through these substrategies boosts success rates," says Newby-Clark. "But it would take too much attention and vigilance to do all that and also decide it's time to brush your teeth for the full two minutes and become better informed about world events."

3. Break It Up

Since your supply of self-control is finite, make resolutions that require small acts of will, not weeks of vigilance. " 'Lose 10 pounds' sounds specific, but it's less likely to work than behavioral goals like 'This week I'll try to go to the gym three times, take the stairs at work at least twice, and bring a healthy lunch every day,' " says Andrea Bonior, Ph.D., a psychologist in private practice in Washington, DC, and author of the "Baggage Check" column for the Washington Post Express. You'll feel good when you accomplish each goal, and your success will help bolster your resolve: The better you are at making small changes, the easier it will be for you to keep going.

Today on WebMD

woman in yoga class
6 health benefits of yoga.
beautiful girl lying down of grass
10 relaxation techniques to try.
 
mature woman with glass of water
Do we really need to drink 8 glasses of water a day?
coffee beans in shape of mug
Get the facts.
 
man reading sticky notes
Quiz
worried kid
fitArticle
 
Hungover man
Slideshow
Woman opening window
Slideshow
 
Woman yawning
Health Check
Happy and sad faces
Quiz
 
brain food
Slideshow
laughing family
Quiz