Making New Year's Resolutions
With the new year approaching, we start thinking about the ways we want to improve our lives by getting rid of bad habits, starting good habits, or a combination of both. We look at New Year's Day as a time to start fresh in our lives and create a plan that will make us happier in the coming days. So why is it, by the end of January a third of us will have broken our resolutions, and by July more than half of us will give-up?
Perhaps our expectations are too high. We somehow believe that things will magically change starting when the calendar switches from one year to another. Maybe it’s because our behavior patterns are hard, very hard to change and most of us fail to plan for set backs and failures that come with changing a habit or behavior.
Here is a list of strategies to help you make this year’s resolutions stick:
Limit your promises Set a specific goal - our ability to focus on multiple goals or ideas that require self-control is limited. By setting one goal you don’t feel overwhelmed, giving you only one thing to worry about. When you try to change more than one thing at a time, it’s easy to get distracted. You can’t do any one thing well because you’re trying to do many things poorly. Tackling one challenge and overcoming it can give you a great feeling of success.
Write it down Describe exactly what you want, how you will earn it, when you will have it, and the benefits you'll receive from achieving your resolution. Write the details, but make it simple. When you put it in writing, you increase your chances of moving to the next step and increasing your level of commitment. Your mind, while having great permanent memory, is cursed with lousy recall. Writing your resolution goes a long way towards achieving it.
Involve a friend Tell your friends about what you’re trying to achieve. You’re more committed and more likely to stick to your goals when you publicize them, and you’re more easily able to find support from your network. Get your friends involved – if your goal is to exercise, get a gym buddy. If you want to do more for your community or an organization, find a friend who is passionate about the same cause and partner up for your next fundraiser.
Get out of your own way Sometimes motivation isn’t the problem, it’s the obstacles that stand between us and our goals. At times, we are our own worst enemy. Don’t just say you want to cut late-night snacking, throw out your snack food. If you want to stop abusing credit cards, close your accounts. If you want to save more, use direct deposit rather than asking yourself to write a check or transfer funds every month. Removing Y-O-U from a New Year’s resolution is a great way to achieve it.
Expect missteps You had a bad day. You were doing great with your healthy eating plan until you ate a couple cookies and then you binged on a few more. A bad day. A bad week! There goes that New Year's resolution. So what are the best ways to turn it around?
- Remember your motivators and re-commit to them. Why do you want to change?
- Figure out what you can learn from your slip and make a mid-course correction. "Failure is not a tragedy. Not learning from failure is a tragedy."
- Realize that slips and errors are a natural part of the process of gaining mastery over a new behavior pattern. You're practicing, not failing!
- Remind yourself that change does not take place in an instant. On average, it takes 66 days to develop a new habit.
To sum things up, just acknowledge your mistake without judging yourself, correct your change plan, and keep going...and going...and going.
Contrary to public opinion, many New Year’s resolutions do succeed. You are ten times more likely to change by making a New Year’s resolution compared to non-resolvers with the same goals and motivation to change.
So decide on a resolution, write it down, involve a friend, remove obstacles, expect missteps, re-commit, and then ENJOY the new you! We’re rooting for you!
May your new year be blessed with peace, love and joy.
Happy New Year! The Board and staff at FIRST.