Happy New Year – did you set any New Year’s Resolutions?

I was listening to a story on NPR the other day about how people who make resolutions are 40-46% likely to keep them. While that may not seem like a great success rate, but they said that people who want to make changes in their lives but do not make a resolution have a 0-4% chance of being successful.

It was also interesting that they said that the time of year you make the resolution is not important. If you are not ready on the New Year to make resolution then don’t make one then. Wait until you are ready to make one. Setting a resolution when you are not ready will set you up for failure. So if you are not ready, don’t feel the pressure, wait until you are in a better place.

Is it a slip or a slide? They discovered that people who are successful do have slips from time to time. The biggest difference between those who are successful and those who are not is if they see it as a slip or a slide. People who were successful and those who were not both had the same number of slides, but the biggest difference is their perception of it as being a slip or a slide. Slips were seen as temporary and people who slipped were able to get right back on the track of working towards their resolution. How successful people were in accomplishing their resolutions depended on if they saw a slight detour as a slip or a slide.

Is your resolution realistic? Saying that you are going to lose 50 pounds may be what you want to do, but setting such a large resolution may be setting yourself up for failure from the start. Setting 5 smaller resolutions of losing 10 pounds every 2 months may be more realistic, and it might seem more doable.

How many resolutions are you setting? The recommendation was not to set more than 2 resolutions at a time, especially if those resolutions have nothing in common with each other. To say that you are going to get healthy by exercising more and eating right could be combined, as they can go hand in hand. However, saying that you are going to go back to school, run a marathon and undergo a major home renovation project all at the same time is not recommended. Each one takes time and dedication, you might be successful at one, but it would be unlikely that you would be able to accomplish all three.

Is your resolution specific? Can it be measured? How will you know if you have accomplished it if you don’t know when you have done it? It’s one thing to say “I want to get healthy” but what does that mean? It’s a good start to the thought of what you want to do, but then you need to set some measurable goals. A good way of thinking about it is how would someone else looking at your resolution know how you are doing? To say “I want to get healthy” is so subjective there isn’t a consistent way to measure that. “I want to lose 10 pounds and exercise 30 minutes five days a week” is measurable. You can keep track of your weight and track how long and how often you exercise.

Find a support system. This doesn’t have to be a formal support group. It can be a friend, family member, or co-worker who will help you by having positive conversation with you. You can be a support for someone who even has a different resolution than you. It’s more important to have someone who is helping remind you of why you are doing it, and helping you to celebrate your successes than to have someone who does share your exact resolution, but it doesn’t hurt if you do.

Finally, reward your successes! Initially it can be easy to stay on track, but after 2-3 weeks people often tend to need more motivation than simply the fact that they made a resolution. Set some healthy rewards for each milestone you reach. Perhaps for every 2 weeks you accomplish your exercise goal you get a pedicure. It’s a reward that won’t derail your accomplishment and makes you feel good about what you have done.

I set resolutions for myself – so check in later this week to find out what they are!

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