10 Tips for Keeping New Year's Resolutions

The best way to stick with your new year's resolution is to plan ahead

Chances are, at some time in your life, you've made a New Year's Resolution—and then broken it. This year, stop the cycle of resolving to make change, but then not following through. If your resolution is to take better care of yourself and get your inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) under control, you'll have a much better year if you are able to keep your resolution all year long. Here are 10 tips to help get you started.

1
Be Realistic

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One thing about achieving goals is that they need to be realistic. They can be ambitious, but remind yourself not to try for something that's just too far afield. The surest way to fall short of your goal is to make your goal unattainable. For instance, resolving to never eat your favorite food again because it bothers your IBD could be a bad choice for a New Year's resolution. Strive for a goal that is attainable, such as avoiding that food more often than you do now.  

2
Plan Ahead

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New Year's Eve probably isn't the best time to start planning for your year ahead. If you wait until the last minute, your decisions will be based on your mindset on that particular day. Instead, your New Year's resolution should be planned well before December 31 arrives. If it's already too late for planning to start January 1st, pick another date — February 1st, your birthday, the anniversary of your diagnosis — whatever date is meaningful for you.

3
Outline Your Plan

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You wouldn't start sewing a dress without using a pattern, so why would you base your life on a half-formed idea rattling around in your head? Decide how you will deal with the temptation to skip that exercise class or to have one more cigarette. This could include calling on a friend for help, practicing positive thinking and self-talk, or reminding yourself how your lifestyle choices affect your IBD.

4
Make a "Pro" and "Con" List

Pro and Con List
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Did you consider all the angles of your resolution? Maybe the time is right, and maybe it's not: give that a thought before diving in. It may help to see a list of items on paper to keep your motivation strong. Develop this list over time, and ask others to contribute to it. Keep your list with you and refer to it when you need help keeping your resolve. 

5
Talk About It

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Don't keep your resolution a secret. Bring your family and friends into the fold, and with them behind you, you can better achieve your goals. The people who care about you will be there to support your resolve to change your habits for the better or to improve your health. The best case scenario is to find yourself a buddy who shares your New Year's resolution and to motivate each other. 

6
Reward Yourself

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Small rewards along the way can help you to feel that you are achieving your goals. This doesn't mean that you can eat an entire box of chocolates if your resolution is to eat more healthfully. Instead, celebrate your success by treating yourself to something that you enjoy that does not contradict your resolution. If you've been sticking to your promise to eat better, for example, perhaps your reward could be going to a movie with a friend. 

7
Track Your Progress

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If you have some way of keeping track of your progress, that can be a big help to you on your journey. Keep track of each small success you make toward reaching your larger goal. Short-term goals are easier to keep, and small accomplishments will help keep you motivated. Instead of focusing on losing 30 pounds, say, focus on losing that first 5. Keeping a food diary or a symptom journal may help you stay on track.

8
Don't Beat Yourself Up

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Having a good attitude all the time when you're looking to improve your life isn't always possible. But doing your best to be less self-critical can help. Obsessing over the occasional slip up on the way to your goals won't help you achieve any progress. Do the best you can each day, and take each day one at a time. When you do backslide, don't dwell on it. Just get back on schedule again and keep moving forward with your plan.

9
Stick To It

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Sticking to your plan is going to be the hardest part of keeping your resolution. Experts say it takes about 21 days for a new activity, such as exercising, to become a habit, and 6 months for it to become part of your personality. Your new healthful habits will become second-nature in no time.

10
Keep Trying

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Not every shot is going to be a bullseye. What matters is that you keep trying. If your resolution has totally run out of steam by mid-February, don't despair. Start over again! There's no reason you can't make a "New Year's resolution" any time of year.

11
Fast Facts About New Year's Resolutions

New Year's Eve
It takes time, but you can achieve your goals this year if you keep working towards them. Image © Uwe Krejc / The Image Bank / Getty Images
  • 63% of people say they are keeping their resolutions after two months
  • 67% of people make three or more resolutions
  • Top four resolutions:​
    1. Increase exercise
    2. Be more conscientious about work or school
    3. Develop better eating habits
    4. Stop smoking, drinking, or using drugs (including caffeine)
  • People make more resolutions to start a new habit than to break an old one