Nonexpert Advice: Making Your New Year's Resolutions Stick

As you can probably tell from the title, I am going to give you some nonexpert advice on how to keep your 2019 New Year's Resolutions. Aside from the very banal mantra to eat better, I'm not really one to make resolutions because I don't believe you need to wait for a certain date or time as an impetus to better yourself, but this year I'm going to try something new. For a good portion of 2018, I was trying to be present, which, if you're a human, which you must be if you're reading this, you know is difficult to do because we're perpetually looking toward the future. We go to school as kids so we can have a good job in the future as adults, we have jobs to make money that we will save ultimately for our future children and retirement, etc. I wanted something to build off of that for 2019. Something that didn't tie me down and made me feel like they were so concrete that everything I did on a daily basis had to in some way contribute to those resolutions. I have instead, created small, specific goals. Here's why.

I would attribute these goals primarily to the audiobook I'm currently listening to. It's called The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and in Business by Charles Duhigg. The title was an accidental discovery. I have what I like to call an "intense day of cleaning" each Friday morning during which I sweep, Swiffer, and Clorox wipe the living daylights out of my apartment because, well, cats. Anyway, I try to multitask by listening to podcasts or audiobooks and this book happened to be featured on Libby, the ebook and audiobook app. To sum it up, through a multitude of fascinating studies and interviews, Duhigg deconstructs how habits are created and how they can be changed. Although the language is easy to understand, if you're like me and love fiction but have a hard time engaging with nonfiction titles because you have an almost laughable inability to retain names and dates (this is why history was always my worst subject in school), the audiobook is the way to go.

In one of the chapters, Duhigg referenced a study conducted with a group of people least likely to change or develop new habits. 60 somethings who had just had hip replacement surgery. Hip replacement surgery is incredibly painful an in order to recover, you need to slowly begin to move almost immediately post surgery. The study found that the people who wrote down what they were going to do exactly to regain full mobility are the ones who not only followed through but also made the quickest progress. An example of this was a man who wrote that he was going to walk to the bus stop to meet his wife when she was returning home from work. Another is a man who write that the first step he took when getting up from a chair, he would do quickly to get the pain over with quickly and be less inclined to sit back down. This study in particular and the specificity of the participants' goals are what have resonated with me.

After we watched the ball drop on TV at midnight, my boyfriend and I took 10-15 minutes to write down our goals for ourselves as well as a couple of things we'd like each other to work on. Then we read them aloud. As many are taught in school, writing things down in longhand aids in remembering it. I suggested we read them aloud so that we could hold one another accountable. I've been going over my list and adding to each goal a snippet of specificity. One of my goals is to blog more, specifically, twice a week. What will I do specifically to ensure this? I'm going to set an alarm on my phone twice a week reminding me to blog.

So here's my formula:

-Write down you goals.

-Make them specific.

-Read them aloud.

If you have any advice/tips for keeping your resolutions or stories on how you miserably failed in keeping them (because failures are important, too), share them in the comments below!

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  • I stopped doing resolutions years ago. My default is simply to be in a better place, mentally, emotionally, physically, socially, economically, spiritually (you get the idea and I’m not sure some of those don’t overlap) than I was at the start of the year.

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