Whether you overindulged at dinner, skipped your workout or hit snooze on your alarm (again), don’t let one flub derail your New Year’s resolution progress.
It’s also worth noting that you’re not alone.
“While goals are motivating to some, they also may paralyze others who feel overwhelmed by the resolution,” Sabrina Romanoff, a clinical psychologist and professor at Yeshiva University in New York, tells Fox News. “Instead of motivating the person to achieve the goal, it may cause them to feel stuck in achieving them if too improbable.”
If you’ve fallen off-track and would like to recommit, here are expert tips on how you can still achieve your New Year’s resolutions.
1. Anticipate the obstacles while setting goals.
A little planning can make a big difference, so if you’re having a hard time with your resolutions, carve out some time to write down new ones and map out any hurdles that you could see impeding your progress.
“Make sure you consider the things that could get in the way of accomplishing your goal, and then build in ways to overcome those obstacles in your goal,” Romanoff says. “The problems will guide the way towards solutions. This will also bolster your resilience when you inevitably face setbacks.”
2. Transform your goals into values.
This mindset shift can be huge in empowering you to stick to your New Year’s resolutions if things have veered a way off course.
“Values are never actually achieved, rather they operate as a compass, constantly informing and guiding our behaviors,” Romanoff says. “Avoid focus on achieving a specific goal like getting down to a particular weight. Instead, consider your motivation to lose weight (e.g., health, functionality) and channel those values as incentive for your goal.
Romanoff says recognizing the “why” behind your goal will ground you in purpose and contextualize the resolution in a meaningful way.
She also suggests identifying and rewarding yourself for steps that you take towards your resolution to give yourself positive reinforcement and keep your motivation strong.
Young woman is doing morning stretching in bed with her arms raised. (iStock)
3. Remember to be flexible.
“Do not hold these resolutions rigidly. Accommodating change and new revisions to resolutions is adaptive,” Romanoff advises.
If you miss a goal, instead of giving up try setting a more realistic one. For example, you may have the goal to work out six days a week. If it’s two weeks in and you’re averaging three days a week, it may be best to modify your goal to working out three or four times a week. Try not to get discouraged.
Researchers found Upping exercise intensity to moderate-to vigorous physical activity was linked to a 31 percent lower risk of cancer mortality. (iStock)
4. Hoping to lose weight? Make a pledge not to diet in the new year.
If your goal was simply “weight loss,” and you’ve fallen off the wagon, nutritionists suggest banishing the phrase entirely.
“Going on a diet come January 1 will consciously or subconsciously trigger a mental deprivation, and your body will react like it’s going into starvation mode. This influences how you behave around food and is the reason why you can’t pass on a donut in the break room, and feel stuffed and out of control,” Angela Houlie, a registered dietitian nutritionist and founder of My Fruitful Body Nutrition, tells Fox News.
Instead, Houlie recommends shifting your mindset away from dieting and towards learning to listen to your body. “Take time to get in touch with your body’s natural hunger and fullness cues. Use a hunger and fullness scale to determine what and when to eat and stop the ‘good’ versus ‘bad’ food mentality,” she says.
Shot of a young man eating fresh vegan salad with chickpeas balls and sesame sauce on rustic wooden table.
5. Make your resolutions as specific as possible.
Vague or sweeping resolutions are the enemy of success, so if you’re having a hard time sticking to mega goals, consider zooming in on a micro goal you hope to accomplish.
“Goals must be specific, detailed, and most importantly measurable. Rather than making a goal such as, ‘be more healthy,’ we may need something like ‘work out three times a week with one cheat food day in the week for two months,’” Marianna Strongin, a licensed clinical psychologist and founder of StrongInTherapy tells Fox News.
Strongin also advises to start small. “One of the biggest mistakes people make in the beginning of the year is that they set a New Year’s resolution that is too hard or too large to accomplish. This creates feelings of defeat and negative self-esteem. Instead, start very small and build as you master each task,” she says.
People work out together in a gym using exercise balls. (iStock)
6. Don’t beat yourself up.
Would you say half the things you say in your internal dialogue with yourself to a loved one? Probably not. Extend that same kindness to yourself. “Give yourself grace for being human,” says registered dietitian Jenna Volpe, founder of Whole-istic Living.
“Focus on progress, not perfection. Remember that challenges and setbacks are a constant, not a variable, so you must come to terms with this and be at peace with sometimes taking two steps forward and one step back,” she adds. “The most important thing is to learn from your setbacks, and then keep going — at a pace that feels realistic and sustainable for you!”
Woman adjusts the balance to find out her weight on a scale. (iStock)
7. Establish a reward to incentivize yourself to get back on track.
Doing this can give you the motivation you need to recommit to your goals if you’ve strayed, whether you’re trying to cut back on drinking or read more books.
Pam Sherman, who is a certified personal trainer, highlights the importance of setting up a reward for yourself after you’ve made progress towards your goal. For instance, take the popular goal of committing to a workout routine.
“If your goal is to work out three times a week, and you [do] 12 or more workouts in a month, get a new gym outfit or gadget,” Sherman says. “Something that makes you want to keep going until you reach your goal!”
Another idea: If your goal is to cook more instead of ordering takeout, treat yourself to a new set of cookware if you cook a certain number of meals.
Young exhausted and wasted woman waking up suffering headache and hangover after drinking alcohol.
8. Refocus by asking yourself, “What’s one new thing I can add to my routine?”
“When you focus on the process instead of the results, you will feel more empowered,” Annalicia Niemela, a certified holistic health coach leader of the Exercise180 Movement tells Fox News.
Examples of small, meaningful tweaks you can make to your daily life include drinking more water, breathing deeply for five minutes a day and adding vegetables or fruits to every meal.
“See if you can do the new thing for 21 days in a row,” Niemela says. “When you set goals for shorter periods of time (21 days vs. an entire year), you will feel more successful as you go. From there, you can more easily build on the momentum of success.”
People who drank two cups of water 30 minutes before meals for three months dropped nearly three more pounds than people who didn’t pre-hydrate. (iStock)
9. It’s OK to nix some resolutions.
Niemela reminds that if you blow your New Year’s resolution, it doesn’t mean you’re wrong, “it means the resolution wasn’t right for you.”
If it’s been a few weeks and your New Year’s resolution isn’t working for you, it’s OK. Not everyone is meant to meditate for 30 minutes a day or wake up at 6:00 a.m. Shift your focus from thinking you have to serve your resolution to committing to positive baby steps.
Woman meditates while sitting on grass in the park. (iStock)
10. Celebrate your wins.
Be positive about what you have accomplished, even if you haven’t done what you initially set out to, says Lara Days, a certified personal trainer and yoga teacher.
Days says we are hardwired to feel like what we’re doing isn’t enough. Even if you didn’t stick to exactly what you pledged to do, acknowledge the positive things you did do.
“The more we recognize the changes we are making, the more confidence we build and the more fun we have along the way,” Days says. “Acknowledging our progress is a crucial part of continuing along the journey.”