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Turning Resolutions Into Lifelong Habits

​At the end of January, are you going to be one step closer to living the life that you want to live? Or, are you going to be regretting the resolutions that you made that just didn’t stick?

If you’re like most people, your resolutions are going to start to fade as winter fades into spring. While 45% of Americans make New Year’s Resolutions, only 8% of them actually keep their resolutions. During the first two weeks of each new year, 75% of people who make resolutions are still sticking to them, but by February only 64% are.

But what if you could do things differently and make them stick? It’s possible. With a little bit of planning and commitment, you can turn your resolutions into lifelong habits.

Here’s how:

Understand what it really takes to change.

Perhaps you’ve heard the old adage that it takes 21 days to change a habit. While that would be really nice, it’s simply not true. According to research from the European Journal of Social Psychology, it actually takes up to 66 days to form a new habit. That means that if you start at the beginning of the year, chances are you’re going to need to stick with it long into March for a resolution to sink in. Don’t quit too early! If you go into “resolution season” understanding that it’s going to be a commitment of a few months, you’ll be less likely to give up after a few weeks.

Make measurable changes.

A lot of people make New Year’s resolutions because they think they need to without taking time to consider what they really want to accomplish. Don’t jump on the bandwagon of typical New Year’s Resolutions. Yes, we all should be exercising more, quitting smoking, and drinking more water – but what will make the biggest measurable impact in “your” life right now? That’s where you should be focusing your resolutions, on making significant changes in your life that you can look forward to.

Shift your perspective.

One of the big problems with resolutions is that it sounds so final – “After today I’m never going to eat chocolate again!” With this kind of declarative statement, you can fall into beating yourself up when you slip. Resolutions sometimes come with pressure to not fail at all, even for one day. When you do slip up on your resolution, you’re more likely to quit because you’ve failed at doing something new. Instead, why not shift your perspective and focus on intentions rather than resolutions. Instead of “I’m never going to eat chocolate again!” try “I intend to eat less chocolate this year than I did before.” You’ll give yourself the opportunity to have a little saving grace when you do slip up – and you will because you’re human. Think about consistently trying out your new intention instead of needing to be perfect.

Start with something small.

Change takes work. That’s just the nature of it. Although you may be really ambitious and excited about 2016, you’re going to be in the percentage of resolution losers if you set your sights too high. Instead of overhauling your life with resolutions, take a look at your overall intention and then ask yourself, “How can I take a small step today to make this happen?”

If your resolution is to spend more active time together as a family, maybe it’s as simple as letting everyone know you’ll be walking the dog and would like it to be a family activity. Then the next week, add in some more fun things for you to try. Easing into new habits will keep you from falling off the bandwagon.

Make it easy for yourself.

Reduce as many obstacles to adding your new habit to your life as possible. Put your running shoes by the door. Write down three new meals you’re going to try this week before you find yourself going through the drive-through. Make plans for spending more family time together and get it on the calendar. If you make it easy for yourself and remove as many obstacles as possible, then you’ll be able to make lasting change.