Keeping That New Year's Resolution

Sunday, February 15, 2015

We are now in the middle of February (crazy how fast time flies!). Perhaps you find that you are already struggling with or giving up on your new year resolutions.  A study conducted by the University of Scranton reveals statistics showing that 45% of Americans make new year resolutions.  Of this 45%, 64% keep their resolutions past January and a sad 46% keep them past six months. From my own experience of many failed resolutions throughout the years, I have discovered that the main difficulty is that I expect immediate change.  I don't think I am the only one either. Many people set resolutions and try to change their behaviors and habits immediately.  Unfortunately, its usually not that easy and we tend to give up quickly.  Another problem with many resolutions is that they tend to be pretty vague, such as: read more, get fit and healthy, learn something exciting, enjoy life to the fullest, be more successful. What exactly does any of that actually mean to you?

Now before you despair and resign yourself to becoming one of the 54% that fail at attaining their new year resolutions, let me give you some new insight and encourage you to actually keep those resolutions.  The best way to be successful in attaining your resolutions is to turn them into goals. Where a resolution is often seen as a sudden change in behavior, a goal is something to work towards. This slower, but steady approach will help you to make those resolutions into reality. So, here's how you can change those resolutions into goals:

1. Define your resolution
What is it you want to achieve? If you want to lose weight, how much are you trying to lose? If you want to "get fit and healthy", what does that mean? Are you looking to lose weight? Tone up? Eat better? Do you want to just look good or are you trying to improve strength and stamina for some kind of competition or marathon? If you want to "read more", how much more are you wanting to read? And what are you wanting to read (self help books? fiction? journal articles? news?)? If you want to "be more successful", what does success mean to you? Money, career, or social? These are all things you need to think about. If you want to achieve something, you need to know what exactly you are reaching for. If you are running towards an unknown destination, who can blame you for eventually giving up? So, take some time to actually think about it clearly. Develop a goal in your mind with a clear definition.

2. Create a plan of action
Changing habits and developing new behaviors doesn't occur overnight. To make a permanent change, you need to take baby steps. Now that you know what your goal is, begin to write out a plan towards achieving that goal. If you are wanting to eat healthier, you may want to ease into it. Chances are good you will give up quickly if you try to completely replace all fast food with salads immediately. If you have really bad eating habits, it will be easier to develop and keep healthier habits if you start small and then begin to build on it. Your taste buds need to learn to appreciate those fresh veggies, but it will take some time, so pace yourself. If you want to read more, maybe you can plan on reading one book a month. If you want to "be fit and healthy", create a game plan for how you are going to do that. Are you going to join a gym, do yoga, run, walk more? Again, start small and build on it. If you know where you want to go and actually have a plan to get there, you are much more likely to be successful in your endeavors.

3. Get support
Tell your friends and/or family about your goals and share your plan for achieving it. Never
underestimate the power of encouragement and accountability. You might find someone who is willing to join you in achieving the same goal. If you're trying to eat healthier, it will be so much easier if your husband and kids are on board with the plan. If you want to read more, you may find a book club enjoyable and helpful. If you are wanting to learn something exciting, like scuba-diving, it will be even more exciting to have a buddy along. For me personally, I have set a goal of training for a marathon. Although my husband hates to run and isn't training with me, he is very helpful and supportive by keeping me accountable. If he sees that I haven't gone for my daily run, he will gently encourage me to go and remind me of my ultimate goal. Having people around you who are aware of your goals and are willing to encourage you and keep you accountable can be the difference between success and failure.

So, there you have it. I'm not saying that it will be easy, but things that are worth achieving rarely are. Just remember to keep going. Everyone makes mistakes and may face some set-backs, but that doesn't mean you should give up. Give it your best and remember that we are all working projects. Once you have achieved your goals and sustained them, you will find that you have also grown your character. By seeing your goal through, you will have likely all learned patience and perseverance. You may also have developed some creativity and flexibility while developing and acting out your plan of action.

I know that you can attain your goals. So even if you may have already started failing or have already forgotten your resolutions, I encourage you to pick those resolutions back up and turn them into goals that you are serious about achieving. It's not too late. And by the end of the year, I believe you will be happy and proud of what you can do!

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  1. Lovely guideline.. Everyday people will tell us doubts, doubts that you can achieve what you want this year. It's important for us to really believe in what we are trying to achieve!

  2. I always get the 1st one right, but miss the next 2 steps! I hope i make it this year!#ibabloggers

  3. Would you be shocked to know, I didn't make any resolutions this year, Bethany?
    You've got some great points here. Nothing can beat the support of like-minded people, who have your interests at heart!