About a month ago, in efforts to try and get more information about New Years Resolution patterns, I set up a poll. 36 people participated - so thank you for your input, whoever you are! Of these 36 people, only 21 stated that they participated in setting a New Years Resolution. Only ONE person found a way to make their resolution last. The others all fell into the other categories, all of which included eventually "dropping" the resolution in the following months. A little over half of the participants admitted that their resolutions didn't even make it through January.
What I've learned in my social work (and life) experience is that there can be a goal in mind, but accomplishing that goal is almost impossible unless there are objectives (baby steps) that help get you there. It's like trying to get to the 10th rung of a ladder without climbing rungs 1 through 9 - unless you have sweet super-human skills or a decent amount of luck, you won't be able to do it.
If you set a New Year's Resolution of losing weight, saving money, or trying to incorporate healthier habits into your daily routine, it doesn't have to be impossible to start and/or maintain. It's all about how you approach your goal.
Here are some tips to help you rock your resolution in 2014:
- First and foremost, ask yourself: on a scale of 0-10, how much do I want to maintain this change? Then ask yourself - Why am I at this number, and not zero? Use the answer to this question to begin finding your motivation.
- Recognize that most (ok, probably all) people see the good reasons and the not so good reasons to make a change. It's easy to get stuck in an ambivalent state, going back and fourth between I am totally not changing ever and I really need to change, NOW. Example: "Eating pizza and cookies is awesome + delicious, and I can't imagine not doing it, so I'm never giving them up!" and "All I do is eat pizza and cookies, I feel gross inside and out, I need to stop eating these things immediately." This is normal.
- Try and think about what it would look like if you woke up tomorrow and you had already reached your goal. What would be different? Visualize your successes.
- Identify exactly what you want. Get specific! Instead of "I want to lose weight", try, "I am going to lose 10 pounds." Turn "I want to eat better" into "I'm going to eat 4-5 servings of vegetables a day."
- Use "change" language. No more talking about what you don't want. Talk about what you do want. Not, "I'm going to stop spending money on clothes." Instead, "I'm going to start putting $40 a paycheck into a savings account."
- Make sure your goal is measurable and attainable. Losing 15 pounds in a week only happens on The Biggest Loser, so don't sell yourself short by setting expectations that are too high. If your goal is to eat 4-5 servings of vegetables a day, but you only eat 3, be happy about that! It's better than none, and you're trying.
- Celebrate yourself!! Making the goal, facing it, and showing up is half the battle.
So, if you set a New Year's Resolution every year with no success, try the above tips to get yourself started. The key is to believe in yourself and to not beat yourself up over "failure." Most people fail several times before they get their goal to stick. Know that, and don't let it keep you from getting back up to try again. There is no resolution rule book that says if you fall off the tracks once, you can't get back on.
Incase you're wondering what my resolution is for 2014, it's to practice listening. REALLY listening. It's the kind of resolution that I know I won't fail, but I also know I won't always succeed. There will be times where my iPhone goes off, or I'm tired or uninterested, but to truly give another individual my undivided attention while they're talking to me is my goal in 2014. Habits form after trying + trying + trying again. I want to be a great listener, almost all of the time!
Share your resolutions, your successes, and the bumps in the road. Be proud of yourself for the effort that you're giving. Most of all, HAPPY NEW YEAR!