Lose 20 lbs. Quit smoking. Eat healthier. Save some money. Most of us at one time or another has made a New Year’s Resolution that sounds familiar to one of these. And if you’re anything like me, that resolution lasted about a week and was a distant memory by the end of January. In fact according to the site www.statisticbrain.com, 45% of people usually set them, but only 8% actually achieve them.
So why are resolutions so hard to keep and what can we do to become part of that elite 8% who actually realize their dreams of losing weight, finding love, or becoming more organized? A couple of things, according to the American Psychological Association (www.apa.org).
First, they suggest that rather than attempting ”sweeping character changes,” we take a few moments to reflect on the past year and commit to some positive lifestyle changes. In other words, instead of saying “I will be,” say “I will do.” Once that mindset has changed, they offer 5 tips for helping to stick to those commitments.
We should make resolutions that we think we can keep. While 2 hours a day 7 days a week at the gym may not be possible, an hour a day 3 days a week may be. Losing 100 lbs. in a year may seem overwhelming, but losing 8 lbs. a month may not. When we set unreachable or overwhelming goals, we start out with the deck already stacked against us.
Change One Behavior at a Time
Vowing to quit smoking and lose 100 lbs. at the same time may be too much. Most of the things we try to change are habits, and there’s scientific evidence that “habits” are actually physical things (www.science.howstuffworks.com). Breaking a habit requires some brain rewiring. Rewiring one thing at a time can be easier (and thus more successful) than trying to rewire too many things at once. This is especially true since so many of our habits are our way of responding to stress, and trying to break old habits can cause stress. Talk about a vicious cycle! The Howstuffworks article even suggests writing down exactly what we want to change and how we’re going to do it.
Talk About It
The APA suggests that sharing our goals with our friends and families, and even joining a support group, can be helpful. Sharing makes the burden lighter, and I think the added accountability is important too.
Don’t Beat Yourself Up
Sometimes life gets in the way of even the best of intentions. Don’t let missing a couple of days at the gym because of an extra heavy work load derail the resolution train. Don’t listen to those little voices that may start to yap about how silly we were to think we could actually lose that weight.
Ask for help
Whether it’s from friends and family or a professional, accepting help can decrease the stress involved with making lifestyle changes.
In the end, I think keeping our New Year’s resolutions comes down to a couple of things; be reasonable, share our goals, and be forgiving. I have no artistic training so creating a masterpiece painting is probably not a particularly reasonable resolution, but maybe signing up for an art course is. If I’m trying to make a positive lifestyle change, chances are my friends and family are going to be supportive and may even cheer me on if I share what I’m trying to do with them. And lastly, we need to be our own best friend and cheerleader. We wouldn’t berate our best friend if she only lost 6 lbs. instead of 8 this month – we’d be thrilled that she lost those 6 lbs. because now she’s 6 lbs. closer to her goal, right? We need to cut ourselves the same slack while encouraging ourselves to keep the end goal in sight. And remember, it’s not about changing who we are; it’s just about changing how we act.
Written by: Tricia Doane, FizzNiche Staff WriterSharing is Caring!