5 Accountability Strategies to Actually Stick to New Year's Resolutions
A new year is here, and with it — as always — comes ambitious New Year’s resolutions.
If you plan on participating in goal-setting this January, you probably already have your resolutions picked out. In the best-case scenario, they’re process resolutions rather than pure goal resolutions (“cook at home three times a week” rather than “lose 20 pounds,” for instance).
Related: 4 Reasons Why You Can't Stick to Your New Year's Resolutions
But that’s the easy part. The hard part is actually following through on your commitment. So, how do you keep the resolutions you set out to accomplish? Here are five ways to stick to your New Year's resolutions this year.
How to Get Motivated (and STAY Motivated) About Your New Year's Resolution Idea
1. Make a Public Commitment
One way to increase the pressure on yourself to stick to your resolutions is to make them public. Announcing your resolutions to your friends and family raises the cost of failing to follow through by putting you at risk of embarrassment. And when you get right down to it, fear of embarrassment is a powerful motivator for most of us.
Social media — particularly Facebook and Instagram — is a good way to make the announcement, but personally telling your close friends and family about your resolutions is also advisable.
Related: 5 Ways to Turn Your New Year's Resolution Into a Revolution
Additionally, you should provide periodic updates on how you’re following your New Year's resolution idea. Facebook and Instagram are again useful here, either through posts or stories.
People are motivated to avoid pain. By consistently making and maintaining a public commitment, you can engineer a situation in which failing to keep your resolutions is more painful than keeping them.
2. Put Money on It
If embarrassment doesn’t work for you, there are always more tangible consequences you can set for yourself. The most straightforward approach here would simply be to set up monetary consequences for non-compliance, along with the help of a friend.
As an example, suppose you’ve committed to exercising three times a week for at least 20 weeks. You could give a friend $600, and then have them give you $10 back for every workout that you perform on schedule.
Related: 10 Things Spartan CEO Joe De Sena Is Jacked up About for 2022
Studies on the impact of financial incentives like this have been mixed. While some research suggests that financial incentives may reduce intrinsic motivation for people who are already motivated to eat healthy or exercise, other research shows that — at the very least — financial incentives are helpful for people who aren’t already in the habit of exercising or following a clean meal plan.
3. Use a Habit-Tracking App
Studies show that apps can reduce motivational obstacles to building new habits. There are a variety of apps available for tracking habits and aiding with building new habits. Some are specific to certain types of habits, while others are more general-purpose.
Download the Spartan FIT app now to commit to crushing comprehensive training sessions and workouts with our Spartan Master Coaches, who will motivate you every step of the way.
Related: The 8 Best Spartan Training Programs to Take on in 2022
Diet apps such as MyFitnessPal, LoseIt, or Fooducate are great for tracking calories and macros, and will remind you to input your macros at least once a day. (Most can also provide you with healthy recipes to cook.)
Finally, general-purpose habit-building apps like Habitica and Daylio are great for building multiple New Year’s resolutions, including habits that aren't fitness-related and may not have dedicated apps of their own, like mood and mindset monitoring.
4. Surround Yourself With Positive Influences
People are heavily influenced by their environments, often in unconscious ways. You can use this to your advantage by surrounding yourself with positive influences.
That could mean spending more time around people who have already built the habit you want to build. Depending on the habit, this may mean joining a group fitness class, a cooking class, a study group, or a Spartan Team.
Objects and pictures in your environment can also influence you.
Related: Joining a Team Optimizes Performance, and There's Science to Prove It
If your resolution is to run, keep your running shoes and clothes next to the door and hang pictures of runners on your walls. If you’ve committed to hitting the gym, keep your gym bag near the door and have a few bodybuilding magazines sitting around the apartment. Want to read more? Buy a lot of books and put a couple in every room. Then put away your phone, your Xbox, or whatever else is distracting you from reading.
Another easy way to surround yourself with positive influences is to follow or subscribe to a lot of social media accounts, YouTube accounts, mailing lists, blogs, or publications that are related to your resolution. Doing this ensures that you’ll see frequent notifications and recommendations that remind you of your resolution.
One final tip: Pick your most important resolution, find a picture related to that, and set it as your screensaver.
5. Make It Who You Are
It’s one thing to force yourself to follow a habit for a predetermined length of time. It’s another thing altogether to make that habit stick, and to make it automatic. For a habit to be permanent, it has to become part of who you are.
That means that your ultimate goal can’t just be to exercise, you need to become a person who works out regularly. You need to become a person who cooks at home, studies, follows a budget, sleeps healthily, and so on.
Subtle changes in language use and self-identification can support this. One study found that telling people to “be a voter” is more effective than simply telling them to vote.
Related: 10 Ways to Get Fitter Than Ever in 2022
Once you’ve built a habit, you can reinforce that by reminding yourself of it so that your engagement in the habit becomes part of your identity. You can do this by — as an example — populating your screensaver or social media profiles with photos of yourself engaging in the habit.
Buying a digital picture frame and setting it to display a rotating gallery of photos of you following your resolution also works.
The point is to drill not only the habit itself, but the fact that you follow it, into your head until it becomes a part of your identify. At that point, continuing to follow the habit largely becomes effortless.