2022 and You: How to stick to your new year’s resolution

Published: Dec. 28, 2021 at 12:00 PM CST
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BRYAN, Texas (KBTX) - You’ve set a resolution for the new year. Now what?

Brian Anderson is a Texas A&M University professor and cognitive neuroscientist. He says to remember that humans are creatures of habit in our daily activities, reactions–anything–and so keeping a new year’s resolution is, at its core, about creating a new habit that fits into your reality.

“For example, a bad resolution would be, ‘I want to work out more,’” said Anderson on Brazos Valley This Morning. “A better one would be, ‘I want to do 45 minutes of cardio before breakfast on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays.’”

Once you have set the resolution that is specific and feasible, use the tricks that work for you.

“Whether it’s phone reminders, an accountability buddy that you don’t want to let down,” said Anderson, “find what works for you.”

However, make sure to be consistent with the “tricks”: “Don’t use the phone reminders one day and the accountability partner the next… You don’t want to switch it up because that’s going against what you need to do to build that consistency,” said Anderson.

When you are struggling to find motivation, Anderson suggests a couple of methods.

“Try to really experience the positive rewards that you get when you engage in this kind of behavior,” Anderson said. “So if you’re trying to lose weight, focus on not how much you want it, but how good you feel as those pounds start to drop off a little bit.”

The other method is simpler: just do it because you “have to.” He says, we humans do this all the time.

“People might not be super thrilled about their job, but they go to work every day because they don’t want to face the consequences if they don’t,” Anderson said. “It’s not really that much of a ‘choice’ kind of way of thinking, and apply that to that habit that you want to build.”

For example, Anderson says, if you value your health, see healthier eating as something you must do, instead of something you are actively choosing to do every day.

“If I make it not so much of a choice, then that is going to help me to build that consistency,” said Anderson.

Finally, be kind to yourself if you falter in your resolution.

“If you’re on that wagon more days than you’re off, you’re slowly building more and more of that habit, and it gets less hard and less hard and less hard until it’s not so hard anymore. As long as you do whatever it is you’re resolving to do more often than not,” said Anderson, “you are making progress, and it’s never too late to get back on that way.”

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