Resolutions are often a big part of promising opportunities and exciting potential for the new year, but we know that tumbling off the resolution bandwagon is all too easy. Let’s examine some ideas for avoiding the classic resolution traps, and how to transform these ideas into tips for lasting success.

4 New Years Resolution Traps and Tips for Success

1. You have the power to choose the tone of your self-reflection.

Although resetting a past resolution is common (“This year will finally be the year that I…”), dwelling on goals that we haven’t been able to achieve only creates more negative feelings. Over time, those feelings can begin to form a negative habit.

We often associate certain behaviors – going for a run, eating healthy, flossing our teeth – with negative thoughts. At some point, the association between running and being uncomfortable becomes an automatic thought. Before long, not running evolves into a negative habit.

Being mindful is one way to loosen the connections in your brain that form these habits. By taking time after a workout to focus on the benefits and banish negative thoughts, you associate that activity with positive (or at least neutral) thoughts.

When you reminisce about the prior year’s accomplishments and how you plan to continue moving forward, make sure to focus on the accomplishments and successes. The calendar change symbolizes new beginnings, and that’s what makes this a perfect time to create new goals.

2. Resolutions start with a plan, but they succeed with actions.

New Year's Resolution Planning

A resolution starts out as a simple thought; no immediate action is required. We intend to lose weight, eat healthier, or be more active. These good intentions provide instant gratification, but nothing more. Just thinking about eating healthy makes us feel good – without actually performing the necessary task. Resolutions often fail due to procrastination or poor follow-through.

Supplies, equipment, and mental preparation are often needed to start working on a goal. Creating a resolution is a great idea for those who need a nudge or some positive pressure to get started.

Create a plan that includes a strategy to follow for success. Don’t get too caught up in the plan itself at the expense of executing it. While planning, ask yourself what you can start doing right now to take immediate steps towards your goal.

3. Money can be a key lever that swings the balance towards success – or failure.

Money is a poor long-term motivator. Signing up for a fitness membership and spending that money every month will not keep you motivated to continue if you don’t like the activity. In fact, it can actually produce increased negative feelings about that activity or habit.

The fitness industry offers discounts and reduced fees this time of year for gym memberships or other health-related purchases. If you have been thinking about committing to that membership for a while but finances have made it tough, now could be a great time to take the plunge.

If you do, think of it as a trial period. If the membership or purchase doesn’t pan out, don’t give up. Think of options for adapting your goal slightly in ways that clear the hurdles you encountered and increase your odds for success.

4. Are the action items in your resolutions “want-to-dos” or “need-to-dos?”

Creating a resolution that you know would be a positive change but not enjoying the path you have chosen to get there is a recipe for failure. For example, a common goal is to start exercising, and your plan is to sign up for the gym. There’s just one snag: You loathe the gym! Still, you tell yourself, “It will be different this year; I just have to do it.” You may go to the gym the first few weeks, but this action plan could very well be doomed from the start.

Create fun resolutions! Make them something you already enjoy doing but don’t always take the time to do. If you truly enjoy doing an activity, it’s more likely you will make time for it.

Let’s say you want to get more exercise, but walking or jogging outside aren’t appealing due to the cold weather. Make a list of things you enjoy doing that could increase your activity in winter: an at-home workout, snowshoeing, ice skating, walking in the mall, or joining a winter sports league. Stick with indoor options if you really hate the cold weather, or choose to embrace it!

Tara Schmitz is Society’s Health Coach and conducts several on-site and telephonic health coaching sessions each month for Society Insurance. Click here to learn more about benefits that make a big difference for the financial, physical and emotional well-being of Society Insurance employees.