Years Resolutions – Not just a New Year’s Thing
During the start of the New Year most people make
lifestyle changes – mainly covering smoking cessation, exercise, eating
habits, coping with stress at work etc.
However, still filled with good intentions, by January
3rd these resolutions either fail or falter. This article aims to
add support to your New Year or not-so-New Year’s resolutions.
Millions of people venture down a well-traveled path
with bold and sometimes hastily conceived New Year’s resolutions. It is a
route covered with promises to exercise more, lose weight, stop smoking, cut
down on alcohol, eat a healthier diet and meet new people. While goals
setting is a powerful technique that can be practiced year round, it is
obviously around the New Year’s date that many people think most about
what they want to change or accomplish. The end of the year brings about a
time for reflections and assessment of personal progress that has occurred
during the past year.
The coming of a new year is seen as a fresh start and a
time for deciding what needs to be changed and where to go next. It is for
these reasons that so many people make New Year’s resolutions to
accomplish things such as: to exercise more, quit smoking, pay off debt,
save more money, complete projects, make more money, get organized, further
education, lose weight, etc. The word ‘resolution’ comes from the word
‘resolve’ which is “to make up one’s mind or decide firmly”, but
simply making a decision to change isn’t enough to keep one motivated for
With this in mind “how do I break the cycle of
breaking my personal resolutions?” First of all it is important to
understand that, “resolutions are a process, not a one-time effort that
offer people a chance to create new habits.” To be successful with your
own resolutions you must; have a strong initial commitment to make a change,
develop strategies to deal with problems that will come up, and regularly
track your progress. The more reviewing and monitoring you do, the better
you will do.
The requirements for achieving your New Year’s
resolutions are the same as achieving any other goal you set. The following
tips can help you successfully set and achieve your goals for New Year’s
or any other day:
What Experts say
Experts have shown that designing a detailed plan you
will dramatically increase your success rate. For example, a crew cannot
construct a building without a detailed plan. Why should you view your
health program any differently?
Start the process of change with a positive and healthy
attitude. Make as many of the resolutions “I will...” commitments, as
apposed to “I will not…”
Recording your personal baseline
A baseline is a measurement of the existing behavior
and noting when and how often that behavior occurs before treatment.
Examples include, how often and when a person uses tobacco, eats high
calorie foods, or displays outbursts of anger. The baseline measurement of
behaviour will help you set realistic goals and identify future improvement
A trigger is simply anything that causes or increases
the likelihood of behaviour. Therefore, if we know what and what is
motivating behavior, we can create future interventions by planning
alternative coping mechanisms.
Learn by looking at your past
If you have attempted to change your behaviour in the
past but have not succeeded, what exactly went wrong? What will be different
this time? Therefore, when you previously tried to reach a goal, you should
have learned something about yourself and the behaviour, which can be
applied, to your new attempt.
Plan specifically for stress management
Two of the most frequently cited reasons for personal
failure are inadequate time management and/or increased levels of stress.
Changing behaviour is hard enough without the additional difficulty of
trying to balance out work, interpersonal relationships, family, and
everyday life situations. Unfortunately, when things get stressful, people
often relapse back to their old unhealthy behaviour’s. Knowing this ahead
of time, you must plan and prepare strategies for such future events.
Develop a support system for your resolution
Research concludes that the people who succeed at
making lifestyle changes typically have support systems. Consequently,
telling others about your goals and objectives increases your accountability
to the behaviour. From the very start, you should begin by telling those
around you about your fitness program, this way you will increase your
likelihood of success by enlisting greater levels of support. This contract
will not only increase the suppport of those around you but it will also
make your commitment public and help to convince both you and others that
you are serious about this change.
As part of the strategy explained above, initiate ways
to increase the involvement of others in your efforts. For example, you
could always lure a friend into joining and commiting to behaviour with you.
Having someone to workout with or quit chewing tobacco can drastically boost
your success rate. No matter if it is a spouse, boyfriend/girlfriend,
roommate, co-worker, or even an acquaintance, being accountable to someone
other than yourself will help to keep you on track.
If your resolutions/goals attempt to overcome some of
the more dangerous or difficult behaviours such as smoking, drinking too
much, drug abuse, etc., get help. Consult your doctor, other health
professional, or self help group before trying it alone – there are
experts out there who have the knowledge and experience you will need to
achieve your goals.
The program for success and maintenance
With any new venture or attempt it is imperative to
have the right mental attitude. For instance, winners always have the
mindset that their goals are possible and within reach. Not everyone has
this positive outlook, but it can be improved through both positive
self-talk and visualization. Thus, you must develop a mental image of who
you want to become and then act as if you are that person. See yourself as a
nonsmoker, as a fit – healthy person, as an emotionally pleased human
When thinking about your goal, be as exact as possible.
People who set specific goals are more likely to succees. For example, “I
will attend yoga 2X per week” instead of “I will exercise. Or “ I will
save $20.00 each paycheck” rather than “I will save money”.
When you think about setting goals, make sure that they
are within your reach. Be mindful of your finances, schedule, and other
personal affairs. Many people forget to think about these important facts
and, as a result, they set unrealistic goals for themselves.
Keep in mind that setbacks can happen. Stay positive
about your progress. Don’t become discouraged and give up. Your hard work
will pay off!
Reward yourself frequently
Starting an exercise regimen can be physically and
mentally draining, with few immediate results. An effective coping method
would be to link an alternate activity that you find personally rewarding
with your exercises. Therefore, you should find something to look forward to
that can be combined or achieved with your exercise program. Choose
something that makes you feel intrinsically great about your exercise
commitment and you will increase your chances of success. Whether it is a
deserving massage, hot tub, or a satisfying healthy meal, your behaviour
needs reinforcement so you can feel good about your effort.
Provide a Visual Record
Another way to increase your success and motivation is
to keep a visual record of your accomplishments. This can be done by simply
writing on a calendar or using a daily progress chart: Although, most people
today choose to track their achievements and setbacks by writing in a daily
journal. The journal works because it further holds you accountable to your
daily behaviours. Therefore, if you write about your efforts, then you are
more likely to follow through on your goals.
The keys to making a successful resolution are confidence
that you can make the behaviour change and the commitment to making the
“resolutions are a process, not a
one-time effort that offer you a chance to create new habits.”
Even if you are successful, you will need to follow-up
on your behaviour over the years. Take credit for success when you achieve a
resolution, bit is a mistake to blame yourself if you fail. Instead, look at
the barriers that were in your way. See how you can improve your efforts for
the next time and figure out a more successful plan. Remember, behaviour
changes occur throughout the year, not only at New Year’s.
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