Stick it

6 ways to stick to your New Year's resolutions

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It’s easy to get hyped up about a new resolution at the start of the year, but the willpower to keep habits can quickly fade.

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Research suggests nearly 50 percent of people give up on their resolutions by February, and only 19 percent of people keep them for two years or more.

Good news: It’s still early in the year.

Now is the time to consider 6 research-backed ways to keep your New Year’s resolutions.

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6. Pick goals you actually want to keep

It may seem obvious, but the first step toward keeping your New Year’s resolutions is making sure that you actually want to.

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Habits are easier to form if they come from a genuine desire that aligns with your values, rather than external pressure.

If you’re having trouble keeping a resolution, consider whether it's something you actually want to accomplish or if you feel obligated to.

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5. Start habits, don’t stop them

Research has shown that it’s easier to start a new habit than it is to break an old one.

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If you want to cut out smoking or eating junk food, for example, you’ll have an easier time if you replace those habits with something else.

4. Be clear

People have an easier time keeping New Year’s resolutions if they’re clear and actionable.

A resolution to work out three times per week is more likely to be successful than one to get in shape because it’s specific and trackable.

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3. Start small

If you’ve followed all the steps so far and are still having trouble keeping your resolution, you may have just been too ambitious.

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Taking small steps toward your goals can help you make progress, and even just delaying urges can help build impulse control.

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Having sparkling water instead of beer once per week is more achievable than quitting cold turkey, and it could lay the foundation to stop drinking altogether.

2. Set yourself up for success

As much as we like to think we’re in control, our environment plays a big role in whether we’re able to stick to resolutions.

If you can summon the willpower not to bring junk food home from the store, you won’t have to fight the temptation to eat it later.

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Peer support can greatly boost your chances of success as well, so consider asking friends and family to help keep you accountable.

1. Reward yourself

It’s common to think that punishing failure will encourage you to do better next time, but research shows that being too hard on yourself actually makes goals harder to accomplish.

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Rewarding yourself for success has a much better chance of paying off in the long run.

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Focus on the ways you’ll reward yourself for success to boost your motivation — then actually enjoy those rewards to cement your new habit as a positive change.

Sticking to good habits is never easy, but using science-backed methods and remembering that you can always start over can set you on the right path.

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