6 Ways to Keep Your New Year’s Fitness Resolution

With the beginning of the New Year quickly approaching it’s that time of the year when you’re setting new resolutions and goals. If you are hoping to keep your New Year’s resolution here are some of the best tips to achieve your goal. Backed by science these tips are great ways to stick to your resolution and reach the next New Year’s party proud!

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#1 Have A Plan of Attack

It’s always good to be prepared. That counts double when you are trying to achieve your New Year’s resolution. A study from the Dominican University of California concentrated on not only goal setting, but on the actual strategies for achieving goals. This study found that setting a plan before starting on your goal provided measurable results. What the findings showcased was that the group of subjects who reaped the best results followed a specific model:

  • Commit to Action. Rather than simply writing down a goal, the group was asked to commit to an action. This meant that the subjects were asked to question their motives as to why they chose their goal and what achieving that goal would mean to them. Essentially make a concise commitment, on paper, to achieve their goal.
  • Regular Updates. The second component to executing a plan for your goal is to update a friend or accountability person on a weekly basis to help keep the focus on the progress that you are making. The findings in this study also agree with what other studies have found. According to a recent study published by the American Psychological Association, checking in on progress frequently increases the likelihood that you will succeed. In fact, the study shows that the more often that you check in on your progress, the greater the likelihood that you will succeed. The same study also concludes that your chances of success increase even more if you report your progress publicly or otherwise physically record how you’re doing.

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#2 Write It Down

As mentioned above writing down your goals give you a pretty large advantage when it comes to reaching the finishing line. If you really want to make sure that you are giving yourself the best chance at seeing through your resolution, keep your goal at the forefront of your mind. A 2015 study by psychologist Gail Matthews showed when people wrote down their goals and placed it in a visible place they were 33 percent more successful in achieving them than those who formulated outcomes in their heads.

#3 Turn Your Goal Into A Formula

If you have had trouble sticking to your resolution in the past then you might want to try this one trick developed by Dr. Latham and Dr. Locke who have looked into the past 35 years of goal-setting theory. The idea is that you turn your goal into a definable formulated sentence that keeps you accountable throughout the year. The sentence formula goes like this: 

I will [behaviour] at [time] in [location].

So, an example sentence would be, I will go for a run at 4 pm in the park. Researchers found that people who filled out this sentence were 2 to 3 times more likely to actually exercise compared to a control group who did not make plans for their future behavior. Psychologists call these specific plans “implementation intentions” because they state when, where, and how you intend to implement a particular behavior. This finding has been repeated across hundreds of studies and has been found to increase the odds that people will start exercising, begin recycling, stick with studying, and even stop smoking.

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#4 Keep Your Resolution To Yourself

Although telling people about your goal for your New Year’s resolution may work for you, there are also findings that keeping your goal to yourself could also be effective. A 2009 study found that another good way to accomplish your goals is to actually avoid telling other people about them, because letting another person know what you’re up to can give you a premature sense of completeness. This could be applied to resolutions like going vegan or training for a marathon because let’s be honest your co-worker’s eyes glazed over 5 minutes ago.

#5 Give Your Resolution A Deadline

Although setting a resolution for the New Year usually comes with the notion that you will do whatever you set out to do all year long. However, setting yourself an end date that is more achievable is a great way to successfully reach your goal. Research has found that setting a definite time and date makes you 91% more likely to complete your goals.

#6 Build It Into A Habit

One of the best ways to make your New Year’s resolution stick is to actually turn it into a habit. A recent study published in the journal Neuron found that habits and goals are stored differently in the human brain. Specifically, a region known as the orbitofrontal cortex is responsible for converting wishful goals into solid, automatic habits via the neural messengers known as endocannabinoids, which are also responsible for modulating appetite, memory, and mood. The best way to get your endocannabinoids to help you form a habit is by being consistent.

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A study by the European Journal of Social Psychology has found that, on average, it takes 66 days for a habit to become automatic. That’s just a little over eight weeks of doing the same thing every day before it becomes a natural part of your daily life. If you can make it through two months of discipline, then you’re much more likely to achieve your long-term goals.

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Ready To Set Your New Year’s Resolution?

The main idea behind setting a New Year’s resolution is so that with the fresh start of a brand new year you can become an improved version of yourself. However, people often get tripped up by not following their goals because they weren’t prepared. Hopefully, the above tips and tricks help you plan out your resolution and achieve it! What has your experience been with New Year’s resolutions? Do you have any ways that you’ve kept your resolution that we didn’t mention? Let us know in the comments and have a Happy New Year!

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Lesley George

Lesley is a content writer and community manager at Shape.
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