New Year’s Resolutions: How to Make Them Stick
Research shows it takes 21 days for something to become a habit.
But, Stephanie Hunstad MD, a family medicine doctor at Western Family Physicians, says before you even set out to form a habit you need a particular mindset. “You have to want to change,” she explains. “They first have to assess their readiness for change and they have to really be committed to say, ‘Hey, I want to work on something.’”
Set Realistic Goals
Once you’ve established that you’re ready to commit to your goal, make small, gradual changes to set yourself up for success. For example, if you never exercise, but want to be more active, Dr. Hunstad suggests setting a resolution to exercise three days a week, twenty minutes each time.
The goal you set needs to be right for your current situation – whether it’s the physical state of your body or the amount of time and resources you have to dedicate toward that goal. “It’s very individualized,” Dr. Hunstad points out.
Once You’ve Met Your Current Goal, Reassess
Ideally, two or three months down the road, you’ll determine that your goal has become a habit. Once this occurs, you should re-evaluate your original new year’s resolution so you can continue improving. “I like to approach new year’s resolutions in small increments," Dr. Hunstad says.
If you achieved your goal of exercising a few days a week, try bumping up the number of days or minutes you spend exercising each week.
Last Updated: December 10, 2013