New Year’s resolutions are hard to keep, here’s what to do instead

Community Reports

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – How many times have you actually stuck to your New Year’s resolution? Studies show that 40% of Americans will make a resolution when they ring in 2020, but within the first 30 days, 80% of them will fail.

According to licensed psychologist Tricia McKenna, failure happens when resolutions aren’t realistic. For example, McKenna says if you don’t already exercise, your New Year’s resolution of “working out everyday” is going to fall flat on its face. Instead, she suggests people make changes in small chunks, add their resolution to a routine already in place, and tack it on to something that brings them joy.

McKenna also says people should be setting goals instead of resolutions. That’s because goals are specific, whereas resolutions tend to be more broad and vague. Goals are much more actionable, which is what makes them more effective and easier to accomplish.

Another solution for people hoping to make a change in 2020 is to participate in ‘micro-resolutions‘ instead of year long resolutions. Mirco-resolutions are the practice of setting a new goal for yourself every month instead of for the whole year.

Experts say these ‘micro-resolutions’ can be anything, from eating more fruits and veggies in March to spending 15 no-cell-phone-minutes a day with your spouse in July. Those who’ve participated in these types of resolutions say they’ve found the habits they built to have lasting results even if they only did them for a month.

Americans’ Top New Year’s Resolutions

Based on results from the annual New Year’s Resolution survey, exercising more, saving money and traveling remain the Top 3 resolutions for three years running.

Most popular resolutions by percentage

  • Exercise more/lose weight – 36%
  • Save money- 27%
  • Travel – 18%
  • Get a new job/hobby – 8%
  • Find love – 7%
  • Make new friends – 4%

Resolutions by state according to

StateNo. 1 resolution for 2020No. 2 resolution for 2020
AlabamaExerciseSave money
AlaskaMake new friendsSave money
ArizonaSave moneyExercise
CaliforniaSave moneyExercise
ColoradoExerciseSave money
DelawareNew jobExercise
FloridaSave moneyExercise
IdahoExerciseNew friends
IllinoisExerciseSave money
IowaSave moneyExercise
KansasExerciseSave money
KentuckySave moneyNew job
LouisianaExerciseSave money
MaineExerciseSave money
MarylandExerciseSave money
MassachusettsExerciseFind love
MichiganExerciseSave money
MinnesotaSave moneyNew friends
MissouriExerciseSave money
MontanaTravelFind love
NebraskaExerciseSave money
NevadaExerciseSave money
New JerseyExerciseFind love
New MexicoSave moneyTravel
New YorkTravel moreSave money
North CarolinaExerciseTravel
OklahomaExerciseSave money
OregonSave moneyExercise
PennsylvaniaSave MoneyTravel
South CarolinaSave MoneyExercise
South DakotaTravelExercise
TennesseeExerciseSave money
UtahSave moneyExercise
VermontFind loveSave money
VirginiaExerciseSave money
WashingtonSave moneyExercise
West VirginiaExerciseTravel
WisconsinSave moneyNew job
WyomingExerciseSave money

Regardless of what your New Year’s resolution is, experts in the field remind people that creating a new habit takes time. That’s why the first week of your resolution should be easy to accomplish.

So, if your goal is to get more exercise in 2020, start off with going on a walk three times a week. From there, increase your pace, then add a new section to your workout like weights, cycling, or calisthenics. The reason this is more likely to help you stick to a workout routine, is that you’re building ‘habit pairs’. You know that every time you go for your walk, you’re also going to lift, and every time you lift, you’re also going to do a few sit ups, and so on. This allows your brain time to associate the habits as a routine, making you more likely to accomplish your goals.

For more on the science of habits, click here. For more tips on keeping your resolutions, click here.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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