How many of you have New Year’s Resolutions? Do you stick to them, or end them after a couple of weeks?
A Forbes Health/OnePoll from October 2023 surveyed 1,000 adults about their 2024 resolutions. Nearly half (48%) said improving fitness was their top priority. Losing weight and improving diets were other popular answers.
The poll found keeping resolutions only lasts two to four months before people give up or forget about them. More than 40% of people said their resolutions lasted two or three months. Only 1% say their resolutions last the whole year.
What is the key to keeping your resolutions? Don’t call them resolutions and change your mindset
“I’m not a huge fan of New Year’s resolutions. It’s all or nothing,” University of Colorado College of Nursing Assistant Professor Emily Cheshire, DNP, MS, FNP-BC, says. “It’s a cultural thing…people say, ‘I’m going to the gym four days a week or I’m not doing anything’.”
Cheshire says the best way to make lasting changes for your health is to start doing this now – before the new year.
“This is something so easy to do this time of year,” she says. “Instead of creating a resolution, think about what you do for a week and become mindful of that. Develop a deep practice of what you’re already doing.”
How Can You Change Your Mindset?
Cheshire says it’s hard for many people to get away from the feeling of failure if they don’t meet their resolutions. She says the approach should have a resolution of being more mindful of their activity level. Most often, these activities don’t require a gym membership or a change of clothes.
“Doing these things helps people become more aware and create lasting change,” Cheshire says. “Once we get in motion, we tend to stay in motion.”
After merely watching what you do in a typical week, begin to make minor tweaks in your activity levels. The boost in mood will likely drive you to at least continue with increased activity and may result in adding more activity.
There are easy ways to change your mindset – and a lot of things you might already be doing. For example, be mindful of where you park at the grocery store. Can you park farther away so you get in a few extra steps? Can I take my dog for more walks, or can I get outside more with my kids? Another option is taking the stairs instead of an elevator.
“I might take the stairs a certain day while at the College of Nursing. Other days, I can’t and need to take the elevator, but I’m thinking about it and considering taking the stairs, instead of becoming a creature of habit and heading straight to the elevator,” Cheshire says.
Benefits of Staying Active
The Centers for Disease Control reports having regular physical activity is an important aspect of staying healthy. Benefits include improving your brain health, managing weight, improving your bone and muscle health, and reducing your risk for disease.
Staying active can also have a big impact on your mental health and well-being.
“Higher activity levels help release dopamine in our bodies, and that usually perpetuates us thinking ‘I want to go for a 30-minute walk when I get home because I feel better when I do that’,” Cheshire says. “From there, increasing your activity level becomes more natural, and it becomes more sustainable.”