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Some Helpful Tips To Make Your New Year’s Resolutions Stick

Phoebe Waller-Bridge raises a glass in a scene from 'Fleabag' season 2

Another New Year, another round of New Year’s resolutions. The thing about resolutions is that, in reality, people focus more on the end product, when what they need to focus on is the creation of habits that yield long term results. With that in mind, if you’re looking to make 2023 your year, here are some tips to help turn your resolutions into changes that will last.

Start now, start narrow

Perhaps the best way to get a start on those resolutions is to hit the ground running. The sooner you get started on your goals, the more likely you are to achieve them. Also, focusing more on a specific goal rather than several nebulous goals can help. That being said, some habits can help you with others (e.g., a person who is well-rested has more energy to spare for a morning routine), so if you start progress on one of your larger goals, you may find that it has a positive effect in relation to another goal.

Avoid procrastination

I know this is arguably the most basic advice but avoiding procrastination in the first place can keep you from seeing change as a chore. Do your most important task (or resolution) first. Getting it done early when you have the drive to do so can help keep that energy up for later tasks.

If you still find yourself avoiding the work, try doing the smaller, more rewarding tasks earliest to energize yourself with little victories.

Reject the Toolbox Fallacy

Long story short: The “Toolbox Fallacy” is when you delay working on a project or task due to “needing” a specific tool. Once you get that tool, then you will be able to do what you’ve been avoiding. The fact remains that it’s not the lack of tools that’s holding you back. Obviously, in certain cases this is true; tools or special equipment are required for many tasks. However, the main motivator for change is not external factors, but internal factors. Don’t wait around for change to happen to you. Focus instead on making your own change. If you want to draw, you don’t need a thousand-dollar tablet to do it. It can be a great tool for helping improve your skills, but ultimately, you can still work on honing your skills with pens and paper.

Join a group

Shelly from Bob's Burgers teaching hip hop to a class of mostly white people. Text reads "There's gonna be some profanity coming at you, so cover your ears if you can't handle the 'B; word." Shelly is based on Dana Rizzo.
(Fox)

If you’re a social person, turning self-improvement into a social event can go a long way to helping establish behaviors. Instead of joining a gym and letting your membership add to the millions of unused memberships, take a physical class—dance, rock climbing, whatever piques your interest.

Even if you’re not a social person, joining a Zoom or Discord group can help you develop a schedule for working toward your goals, all with minimal in-person social interaction. For writers, there are dedicated Discord writing groups and writing bots to help get you in the habit of writing every day. 

Even just going to a library or another location where other people are working can get you into the mindset.

Talk to professionals

(BBC)

If you have health concerns—be it about sleep, mental health, or addiction—talking with your doctor about the best path forward can be a great first step. I know there are frequently barriers like insurance and finances that can bar people from access, but knowing the best path forward and getting resources from them is a great first step.

Carve out time

A woman looks at her phone while relaxing in a bathtub in an image from the anime 'Cowboy Bebop'
(Adult Swim)

I know this can be the most difficult thing to do in a world where many people struggle to find time for the things they love, but if you’re able to carve out a consistent block of time for yourself—whether it’s 10 minutes a day or one hour a week—that time can go a long way to helping you meet your goals.

Get more rest

Overworking yourself will just lead to faster burnout, and a majority of adults aren’t getting the rest they need anyway. Consider making rest or self-care part of your resolution, and be kind to yourself in the coming year.

Obviously, your ability to get good sleep can vary a lot depending on your circadian rhythm, career, and family demands, but the best advice to get more rest usually boils down to sleeping in a cool, dark environment for seven-to-eight hours around the same time every night. Per the above video, you can help yourself by napping before 3PM, not using the snooze function on your alarm, and not looking at your phone in bed. If you’re struggling with falling asleep in the first place, you can try getting up and doing something relaxing to help put yourself in a restful frame of mind, or systematically tensing and relaxing your muscles to induce relaxation—a technique known as progressive muscle relaxation.

Taking care of yourself in other ways (regular physical exercise, hydration, and eating nutritious foods) can also help you maintain a more beneficial sleep schedule.

Exercise more

(The Pokémon Company International)

Getting more exercise is one of the most common New Year’s resolutions, with 50% of individuals asked having it on their list for 2022. It’s also a resolution that has many positive benefits for your overall health.

One of the best ways to get yourself exercising more is to choose a physical activity you enjoy. If you don’t like strength training or being stuck in a gym, try going on a walk. Play some fun music to dance to and see where it takes you. Look into a membership at an adult playground or trampoline park. Even getting a Wii Fit or Xbox Kinect can help you get into the habit of daily physical activity.

Improve your nutrition

(Toei Animation)

Again, speaking with a doctor (or in this case, a registered dietitian) about your individual needs is always the best way to go. However, increasing the amount of vegetables and fruits you eat is never a bad idea (some statistics indicate that 90% of Americans aren’t getting enough vegetables). One especially interesting way to do this is to look for pasta or rice substitutes like edamame pasta, spaghetti squash, or chickpea pasta, which are usually higher in key nutrients and can help you get more vegetables if you’re struggling to do so. You can also look up some fun veggie-filled recipes, like Remy’s Ratatouille.

Save more money

Mr. Krabs from Spongebob reclining on a pile of money. Looking at another dollar bill in his hands/claw. Image: Nickelodeon.
(Nickelodeon)

Obviously, I do not know the ins and outs of your finances, so it’s best to go over them with a professional. Meeting with a financial planner or accountant, enrolling in a couple of classes, or just opening up your bank app and taking stock of what you’re spending your money on can be vital to understanding—and changing—your money habits.

What’s your New Year’s resolution(s)? Comment below!

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Kimberly Terasaki is a Creative Writing graduate, fanfiction author, and intersectional feminist. She liked Ahsoka Tano before it was cool, will fight you about Rey being a “Mary Sue,” and is a Kamala Khan stan. She appreciates all constructive criticism and genuine discussion.