In order to keep your resolutions in 2019, consider these tips from Tim Bono, author of When Likes Aren’t Enough: A Crash Course in the Science of Happiness (Grand Central Life & Style, 2018) and lecturer in psychology at Washington University in St. Louis.
Find your motivation: Identify an important reason why you are resolving to change something in your life (e.g., “I’m doing it for my kids” or “This is to improve my overall health”). Research shows that reminding yourself of how your daily behaviors fit into big-picture goals will keep you motivated to stay on track.
Identify the challenges: Acknowledge potential barriers that might get in the way of implementing your goals (you might get lazy, tired, forget, or be lured away by another temptation), and then identify contingency plans for how you will respond in those moments: “When I start getting distracted in the middle of a big work project, I’ll give myself a quick break and then remind myself how rewarding it will feel to be finished with it.” Better yet, select environments that are free from distractions altogether. If you know you’re always tempted to surf the web while completing work, take your laptop to a place where there’s no wifi and leave your phone behind.
Make a routine: Set specific dates and times when you will incorporate the behavior—when you make a schedule for new behaviors you’d like to incorporate into your life, they require less psychological strength to implement. When you get in the habit of running every Tuesday and Thursday morning, the behavior becomes much easier to initiate because it simply becomes part of your routine, like brushing your teeth or taking the dog on a walk.
Treat yourself: Make your goals measurable, break them up into smaller sub-goals, and then reward yourself each time you hit a particular milestone. If your goal is to lose 50 pounds in the new year, treat yourself to a movie or other fun outing for each five pounds you lose.