New Year’s resolutions are notorious for being broken — especially by mid-February. But slipping up doesn’t mean you should abandon your goals completely. Making mistakes is part of the process. In fact, your missteps might even help you honor your resolutions in the long run.
Here’s why a bump along the way can actually be a good thing:
“It’s important to remember to be kind to ourselves and not beat ourselves up when things don’t go the way we want or intended them to,” says Jennifer Smith, RD. Research has shown people with perfectionist tendencies are worse at achieving their goals. If you have a slip-up, try to be more forgiving. Don’t worry about missing one day at the gym or over-indulging in sweets. “Brush it off and get back on track with the same level of consistency. If you work harder every time you meet a bump in the road, it could lead to burnout.”
Resolutions can help you step outside your comfort zone, so any movement in the direction of achieving a goal is positive. “Look at all you have done to work toward a resolution that you might not have otherwise tried,” says Erika Martinez, PsyD, a Miami-based licensed psychologist. “If you didn’t struggle with, or find challenge in, achieving a resolution, you’d never select it — it would come naturally.”
What’s more, research indicates you’re 10 times more likely to make positive changes than people who didn’t make New Year’s resolutions. Use slip-ups as a reminder of how well you did until that moment and as proof you’ll be able to succeed again.
If you’ve had trouble honoring your resolutions but are still eager to reach your goal, stepping back and reassessing your desire to succeed can help you reconnect with your will to change.
“It’ll remind you why you wanted to pursue your New Year’s resolutions in the first place [and] make your commitment to them even stronger,” says Leon Turetsky, a Boston-based certified personal trainer.
“When you do mess up, assess why it happened and recommit yourself to getting back on the horse.” For example, if you aren’t sticking with a certain type of exercise because you don’t enjoy it, change your mindset by trying a new activity. Research shows immediate rewards — like enjoying exercise — make you more likely to stick with your resolution to achieve long-term goals such as losing weight.
“Slipping up gives you the chance to start over with a clean slate,” says Ashley Stewart, a Texas-based NASM certified personal trainer. “Learn from the mistakes you made and move on quickly, implementing any changes necessary. That’s what the journey toward your goals is all about — learning, in order to become a better version of yourself.”