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Live Well: Resolutions

January 5, 2024


Happy New Year! It’s time to test yourself with envelope-pushing resolutions—but will they stick?

Studies show that most resolutions fail by mid-March. But it’s also true that timing resolutions to coincide with new beginnings — whether it’s New Year’s Day, your birthday, or even Mondays—provides extra motivation to make changes, because you’re leaving the past behind. It’s similar to the “doorway effect” which makes you more likely to forget what you were thinking a minute ago, simply because you’ve crossed the threshold into a different room.

So why do all those good intentions go by the wayside?

Sometimes they’re too ambitious, sometimes they’re logistically difficult, sometimes they are just not enjoyable. Here are some tips to make resolutions that work:

  1. Make it SMART. Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Timely. Instead of “get more fit,” think of something specific (say, running), measurable (run 10 km in under 55 minutes), achievable (think about what you’re able to do now—is 10 km a realistic goal, or would 5 km be better to start?) relevant (does this resolution fit with your other goals and hobbies?), and timely (register for a race so you have a deadline to work towards)
  2. Use cues and rewards that are built in to the action. Staying with the example of running, if you run in the morning, put your running shoes somewhere you’ll see them first thing, to remind you to go. That’s your cue. Your reward might be including a destination on your route, like a lookout with a view, or a pet store with adoptable kittens to visit—something that makes you happy, but is also tied to the activity. If you pick an activity that makes you feel better, taking time to notice that may be reward enough for you.
  3. Make it fun. Enlist a friend, choose a route with interesting things to look at on the way, create a playlist of music that inspires you!

Whatever your resolutions are, setting a goal and sticking to it can give you a tremendous feeling of satisfaction. And that can make your whole year happy!