New year, same old you?
We’re halfway through the first month of the new calendar year, which means there’s a chance those New Year’s vows are starting to feel more like a drag than a life-changing commitment. If so, you’re not alone: January 17 has been dubbed “Ditch Your Resolutions Day,” because it’s been suggested it’s the day people most commonly forgo their new promises to themselves.
But you don’t have to be a quitter. There are ways to power through that dip in motivation and stick to your goals. Below are just a few hacks to help you sharpen your willpower, stay productive and keep you on the right track.
1. Believe that your willpower is limitless.
It sounds New Age-y, but hear us out. Previous studies suggested that willpower was a finite resource through a process known in psychology as “ego depletion.” If you use supreme willpower to avoid the office bagels, the theory goes, you’ll have less willpower in your supply later on, which might make desert a harder thing to resist.
However, emerging research suggests that ego depletion may not be so concrete, which means it’s possible there’s an endless supply of self-will. And believing you have unlimited willpower may make you more likely to achieve personal goals, Science of Us reports.
2. Put money on your resolution.
The stakes are higher when there’s cash involved. If your vow for 2017 is to hit the gym more often, try using an philanthropic incentives app that donates to cause whenever you work out ― or don’t work out, for that matter. (One app developed in 2016 even donated to Donald Trump’s campaign if you weren’t following through on your health goals. Yikes.)
3. Think of your future self.
Science suggests that empathy for your future self could play a key role in how you live in the present moment. If you think of how you’ll feel in the future or how your world will be affected, you’re more likely to practice self-control now. In other words, write in a journal, work out, ditch that donut or do whatever it is for your future self. He or she will thank you.
4. Recruit a buddy.
Accountability is real. Research shows working out with friends and making it a competition can help you exercise more. If your resolution isn’t fitness-related, try texting a friend about your progress or writing it down every day in a journal.
5. Break your resolution down into a smaller one.
Success lies in small, attainable goals, according to behavior experts. Instead of something vague like “I’m going to lose weight and eat healthier,” try committing to a concrete goal like “I’m going to cook three healthy meals this week.”
6. Find ways to reward yourself right now.
Human beings love instant gratification, and completing a goal often seems so distant. Instead, indulge in a resolution-affirming activity that can make you feel good in the short term. It may be taking a fitness class you’ve always wanted to try (hello, aerial yoga!) or registering for a cooking class (so long, takeout). You’ll be making a small step toward your bigger commitment and reaping the benefits. Research shows that immediate rewards can help you stick to your long-term goals.
7. Know that it’s never too late to make a change.
January isn’t the be-all, end-all. If you fail, take a break, or want to switch up your goals, you don’t have to wait until next year to commit to something again. In fact, research suggests some people persist more after a failure when they feel that they have control over the situation.
So, keep trying. And then you can finally say this year is the year you completed your resolutions for good.