Last year, I was laying on my couch when I saw an ad for a half-marathon that was going to be in New York City in the spring. I played field hockey in college, but after multiple knee injuries, running was one of the things I could still do.
The problem was that I’d never really done distance running. However, I think there was something about the new year just around the corner where I decided, “THIS. This is what I am going to do for my new year resolution.”
There was a study that came out back in 2007 that followed a group of individuals as they tried to stick with their resolutions. One of the findings in the study was that apparently different strategies were particularly beneficial for men and others particularly effective for women when it came to successfully achieving resolutions. I actually hadn’t seen this study until recently, so it was cool when I realized that I had actually used the two strategies that the study noted worked well for women when working toward my goal earlier this year.
The first strategy was that it helped women to share what their resolution was with others. I told EVERYONE about mine. I started talking about running this half marathon from the day I read about it (before I even signed up), and then I never stopped. I told my parents, my brothers, my cousins, my aunts, my boyfriend, my boyfriend’s family, my co-workers — honestly, everyone. You’d think I was going to run in the Olympics by how much I talked about it. I even put it up on the work calendar in my office for everyone to see. It kept me accountable to know they all knew I was trying to do this.
The second strategy that seemed to work effectively for women was being supported through any little setbacks along the way. I can be pretty hard on myself, but last spring I was working really long hours, and some days I just didn’t feel like running when I came home late. Instead of throwing my hands up and feeling like I had ruined everything by not sticking with my original schedule (which believe me, I have done on other things many times), my mom or my boyfriend would tell me not to sweat it and just maybe try to fit in a run on the weekend. With them helping to keep me in check, I was able to adjust and keep moving forward rather than get stuck.
The day of my race, I was super nervous, but my mom and my boyfriend were both there to cheer me on. My goal was just to finish it, but I actually ended up with a time that really impressed me. Even though my main resolution to run this race was completed, I kept running as a part of my regular schedule. My resolution hadn’t just been met, but was actually growing!
I’m thinking it would probably be a good idea for me to apply these strategies again this year. As far as my creative writing resolution, that tends to be something I never talk about with other people. I wonder if maybe I set some goals around that this year and tried to share it with more people to help me stick with it (and get their feedback that could help improve it!) then maybe I can have that same feeling of success again in 2013.
Have you ever succeeded in sticking with one of your resolutions? What was it? Do you have any tips for others about how to stick with resolutions? Tell us in the comments!