By Jelena Kecmanovic
It's that time of year when people make their New Year's resolutions – indeed, 93% of people set them, according to the American Psychological Association. The most common resolutions are related to losing weight, eating healthier, exercising regularly and saving money.
However, research shows that 45% of people fail to keep their resolutions by February, and only 19% keep them for two years. Lack of willpower or self-control is the top cited reason for not following through.
How can you increase your willpower and fulfill your New Year's promise to yourself? These seven strategies are based on behavioral science and my clinical work with hundreds of people trying to achieve their long-term goals.
1. Clarify and Honor Your Values<p>Ask yourself why this goal matters to you. Do you want to lose weight because you value getting in shape to return to a favorite pastime of hiking, or because of societal expectations and pressures? People who are <a href="https://doi.org/10.1037/0708-55184.108.40.206" target="_blank">guided by their authentic values</a> are better at achieving their goals. They also <a href="https://doi.org/10.1177/0146167218820921" target="_blank">don't run out of willpower</a>, because they perceive it as a limitless resource. Figure out what makes you tick, and choose goals consistent with those values.</p>
2. Frame Goals and Your Life in Positive Terms<p>Focus on what you want to accomplish, not what you don't. Instead of planning not to drink alcohol on workdays during the new year, commit to drinking your favorite sparkling water with Sunday to Thursday evening meals. <a href="https://doi.org/10.1037/0022-35220.127.116.11" target="_blank">Struggling to suppress thoughts</a> takes a lot of energy, and they have a way of returning to your mind with a vengeance.</p><p>It also helps to reflect on the aspects of yourself and your life that you are already happy with. Although you might fear that this will spur complacency and inaction, studies show that <a href="https://doi.org/10.1177/1754073916669596" target="_blank">gratitude and other positive emotions lead to better self-control</a> in the long run.</p>
3. Change Your Environment to Make It Easier<p>Research suggests that people with high willpower are exceptionally good at <a href="https://doi.org/10.1016/j.paid.2014.09.031" target="_blank">arranging their environment to avoid temptations</a>. So, banish all credit cards from your wallet if your goal is to save money. And don't keep a bowl of M&M's at your work desk if you intend to eat healthy.</p><p>If your coworkers regularly bring sweets to work, ask them to help you with your goals (they might get inspired to join in!) and bring cookies only for special occasions. Supportive friends and family can dramatically <a href="https://doi.org/10.1037/0022-006X.67.1.132" target="_blank">increase your chances of achieving your resolutions</a>. Joining a group whose members practice behaviors you'd like to adopt is another great way to bolster your willpower, because having role models <a href="https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2019.01722" target="_blank">improves self-control</a>.</p>
4. Be Prepared With ‘If-Then’ Strategies<p>Even the best resolution falls apart when your busy schedule and exhaustion take over. Formulate a series of plans for what to do when obstacles present themselves. <a href="https://doi.org/10.1007/s11031-014-9416-3" target="_blank">These "if-then" plans</a> are shown to improve self-control and goal attainment.</p><p>Each time you wake up in the middle of the night craving candies or chips, you can plan instead to read a guilty-pleasure magazine, or log into your online community of healthy eaters for inspiration, or eat an apple slowly and mindfully, savoring each bit. When you're tired and about to skip that gym class you signed up for, call your supportive sister who is on standby. Anticipate as many situations as possible and <a href="https://doi.org/10.1007/s11031-014-9416-3" target="_blank">make specific plans</a>, vividly imagining the situations and what you will do in the moment.</p>
5. Use a Gradual Approach<p>When you embark on a new goal, start small and build on early successes. Use one less spoonful of sugar in your coffee. Eventually, you might be able to forgo any sweeteners at all. If resisting that muffin initially proves to be too hard, try waiting 10 minutes. By the end of it, your <a href="https://doi.org/10.1523/JNEUROSCI.4246-06.2007" target="_blank">urge will likely subside</a>.</p><p>You might be surprised to realize that change in one domain of life – like abstaining from sweet processed foods – <a href="https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1610902114" target="_blank">tends to spread to other areas</a>. You might find you are able to bike longer distances, or moderate your caffeine intake more easily.</p>
6. Imagine Rewards and Then Enjoy Them<p>Picture the feeling of endorphins circulating through your body after a run, or the sun on your skin as you approach a mountain summit. Pay attention to all your senses: smell, sight, hearing, touch and taste. Visualizing rewards <a href="https://doi.org/10.1016/j.brat.2019.02.002" target="_blank">improves your chances of engaging in the activity</a> that results in them.</p><p>If it's hard to imagine or experience these rewards in the beginning, decide on <a href="https://doi.org/10.1177/0146167216676480" target="_blank">small, meaningful gifts</a> you can give yourself until the positive effects of the new behaviors kick in. For example, imagine yourself taking a half-day off work each month after you pay down your credit card debt: visualize exactly what you would do and how you would feel. And then do it.</p>
7. Be Kind to Yourself, Even During Setbacks<p>Most people believe the way to increase willpower is to "whip oneself into shape," because being kind to oneself is indulgent and lacks self discipline. But the exact opposite is true – people who harshly blame themselves for even small willpower failures tend to <a href="https://doi.org/10.1037/0893-164X.19.3.253" target="_blank">do worse in accomplishing their goals in the long run</a>.</p><p>Try self-compassion instead. <a href="https://doi.org/10.1016/j.paid.2006.03.014" target="_blank">Cut yourself some slack</a> and remember that being human means being imperfect. When you fall for that doughnut, don't despair, and <a href="https://doi.org/10.1037/0003-066X.40.2.193" target="_blank">don't throw in the towel</a>. Treat yourself with care and understanding and then recommit to your goal the following day.</p><p>Remember, you aren't likely to achieve your New Year's resolutions by being self-critical and hard on yourself. Instead, boost your willpower through a series of small and strategic steps that will help you succeed.</p>
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
By Sydney Evans and Ketura Persellin
"Lose weight." "Exercise." "Save money."
More and more Americans are retrofitting their bathrooms with high-end bidets, allowing them to enjoy cleanliness and hygiene without creating as much paper waste. Not all bidets are created equal, however, and before deciding on a particular brand, it's important to do your homework. Take a look at our comprehensive Toto bidet review, and our reviews of Tushy and Omigo, to learn more about all of their options.
Toto USA<p><a href="https://www.amazon.com/TOTO-BT500B-01-Piedmont-Vertical/dp/B00084P3GO/ref=sr_1_3?crid=ZG6AGN0U9VQL&dchild=1&keywords=toto+piedmont+bidet&qid=1613591898&sprefix=toto+piedmo%2Caps%2C188&sr=8-3" target="_blank">Toto's Piedmont bidet</a> offers an elegant, classic design, and it also comes with built-in safeguards that prevent it from ever overflowing. It is available in several color options, and will look good with any contemporary bathroom design.</p><p><strong>Why buy:</strong> This is the most affordable standalone bidet in Toto's catalog. This bidet is a good option if you are remodeling your bathroom or are building a home and want to save water and paper waste from the start. Priced starting at $533, you can find it through other retailers for around $280.</p>
Toto USA<p>The <a href="https://www.amazon.com/TOTO-BT930B-01-Vertical-Cotton/dp/B0015IVUOQ/ref=sr_1_2?dchild=1&keywords=toto%2Blloyd%2Bbidet&qid=1613592001&sr=8-2&th=1" target="_blank">Lloyd bidet</a> has a much bolder, "skirted" design, but it also shares the Piedmont's flushing rim and integral overflow features, which keep you from ever experiencing spillage.</p><p><strong>Why buy: </strong>This is a fancier product with a more striking appearance, and is mainly suited for a larger, more formal design. It retails for a slightly higher price point: The Lloyd model starts at $780 in total, but you can find it for $526 through other retailers.</p>
Toto USA<p>The company's flagship standalone bidet is known as the <a href="https://www.amazon.com/TOTO-BT784B-01-Clayton-Vertical/dp/B0018L9JUC/ref=sr_1_2?dchild=1&keywords=toto+clayton+bidet&qid=1613592108&sr=8-2" target="_blank">Clayton</a>. It includes the same overflow safeguards as the other two, and of course, each of these products is backed by Toto's longstanding commitment to excellent craftsmanship.</p><p><strong>Why buy: </strong>This is the most traditional in its visual style, and, with a number of colors to choose from, it will look great in almost any bathroom design. The Clayton starts at $734, but is available through other retailers for around $426.</p>
Toto USA<p>This electronic smart bidet seat fits onto your existing toilet bowl and offers a number of comfort features, including a heated seat, automatic air deodorizer, adjustable warm water, warm air dryer, self-cleaning wand, and a wireless remote control.</p><p><strong>Why buy:</strong> We chose the <a href="https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00UCIOX2Q/ref=redir_mobile_desktop?_encoding=UTF8&aaxitk=-XjvJQOmffOcAmiCOZvtAA&hsa_cr_id=7413316040901&pd_rd_plhdr=t&pd_rd_r=0e0e7f3d-0baf-4977-85d3-663f618a76d8&pd_rd_w=Yi3yF&pd_rd_wg=LUFHB&ref_=sbx_be_s_sparkle_lsi3d_asin_1_img" target="_blank">Toto C200</a> as the overall best bidet in <a href="https://www.ecowatch.com/best-bidet-toilet-seats-2650502928.html" target="_self">our review</a> of top brands. In addition to the features mentioned, its dual action oscillating and pulsating spray and pre-mist function provide a comfortable and sanitary clean.</p>
Toto USA<p>The <a href="https://www.amazon.com/TOTO-SW3046-01-Electronic-Contemporary/dp/B078GTKSXK/ref=sr_1_2?crid=15NGPC9YFANKH&dchild=1&keywords=toto+s500e&qid=1613960063&sprefix=toto+s500e%2Caps%2C171&sr=8-2" target="_blank">Toto Washlet S500e</a> bidet seat includes the features found in the C200, plus instantaneous water heating, front and rear wash functions, two-user preset memory, and the company's <a href="https://www.totousa.com/technologies/ewater" target="_blank">EWATER+ technology</a>. This system uses electrolyzed water to keep the wand and toilet bowl clean.</p><p><strong>Why buy:</strong> This high-end Toto electric bidet seat can help you reduce water and toilet paper use, and it can help reduce the need for chemical cleaning products with its EWATER+ technology.</p>
Toto USA<p>The <a href="https://www.amazon.com/TOTO-SW2014-01-Electronic-SoftClose/dp/B0165UFOGS/ref=sr_1_1_sspa?crid=30E9Y1LAN9ZRW&dchild=1&keywords=toto+washlet+a100+elongated+bidet+toilet+seat&qid=1613589664&sprefix=toto+washlet+a100%2Caps%2C167&sr=8-1-spons&psc=1&spLa=ZW5jcnlwdGVkUXVhbGlmaWVyPUFBR1FMUTdJR1hXNUEmZW5jcnlwdGVkSWQ9QTAyNjIwOTkxUE1EWk5CQjg2QTZPJmVuY3J5cHRlZEFkSWQ9QTA0NDc1MzExSk1UMk5CQzJYVUhVJndpZGdldE5hbWU9c3BfYXRmJmFjdGlvbj1jbGlja1JlZGlyZWN0JmRvTm90TG9nQ2xpY2s9dHJ1ZQ==" target="_blank">A100</a> is an entry-level Washlet bidet attachment, but still offers numerous comfort features. It includes a heated seat with temperature control, aerated warm water with a dual action spray, and an attached arm control panel.</p><p><strong>Why buy: </strong>One of the most affordable Toto bidet options, it still lets you adjust the water temperature and pressure settings, and features rear and front cleaning functionality for a feminine wash.</p>
2018 was a year in which the threats facing our planet—from plastic pollution to climate change―became impossible to ignore. As scientists and journalists continued to sound the alarm, ordinary people stepped up to do something about it. Sometimes it can be hard to believe that one person's action can make a difference in the face of such enormous challenges, but big changes are made up of little actions. So if you are looking for a New Year's resolution for 2019, why not add saving the earth to the list? To get you inspired, the EcoWatch staff is sharing successful green changes we made to our lives last year, as well as the improvements we plan to make in the year to come.