How to fulfill your New Year’s resolutions

| Scene editor

As we reach the end of January, as always, our New Year’s resolutions begin to falter. Remember those? The ideas you had about how to change for the year 2011? Although we may break them year after year, we continue to make the same promises to ourselves. The truth is there are several ways to keep from falling through on your pledges. None of them are hard to do, and each can make a huge difference in the way you live out the new year.

First of all, hopefully you picked a resolution that means something to you and is important. Whether it’s something traditional, like seeing friends more, doing better in school or working out more, or something more off-beat, it has to be something that you truly care about if you want to be successful in achieving it. Otherwise, it becomes easy to stop worrying about it.

In order to fulfill your resolution, you need a plan. Change is hard—everybody knows that—and you have to force yourself to truly change how you act. Whether it’s setting up a strict schedule for going to the gym or running, spending a specific number of hours per week studying, or even scheduling times to see friends, you have to define what is going to happen. It may seem artificial and awkward at first, but as you slip into the routine, it will become easier.

Don’t attempt to go at it alone. When athletes train alone, they don’t accomplish as much as they do when they exercise with a group. The same is true for New Year’s resolutions. If you want to work out more, find a running buddy or someone to go to the gym with. If you want to study more, go to the library with someone—if you’ll be productive that way. In general, it’s better to let someone know about your goals. That way, they will be able to encourage you and push you to achieve them. Your internal motivation can only take you so far. In order to succeed, one often needs a nudge from outside.

Don’t feel discouraged if it’s very hard to keep up in the beginning. It takes a long time to form new habits and for them to sink in. The first few weeks are always going to be the hardest, but once you get through them, it will be much easier.

In the end, if you stumble, don’t give up. Every little slip isn’t the end of the world. If you’re several weeks along and you mess up, just remember that it’s only been weeks and it will take time to truly change. Instead of giving up, keep going—you don’t have to wait an entire year to make a new resolution.

Sign up for the email edition

Stay up to date with everything happening as Washington University returns to campus.