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How to Keep Your New Year's Resolution

We have welcomed in the New Year. I sincerely hope everyone had a joyous and meaningful holiday. Typically this time of year, there are lots of ads on TV, in print media, and on social media regarding making resolutions for making life better. Losing weight and exercising is often the #1 thing that most people resolve to do – and advertisers know it!  Exercise and weight loss ads are everywhere.

What is it about the New Year that prompts to consider weight loss, exercise, or any number of other resolutions? When it comes right down to it, I think most of us need to feel it’s okay to start over. Many of us have some pretty great and grand ideas for the New Year but, let’s face it; most of us lose our motivation fairly quickly.

Why Do We Give Up on Resolutions?

Perhaps one of the reasons we lose steam is we’re asking too much of ourselves too fast. Once we’ve made the decision to make the change, many of us expect the change to happen immediately – like the next day! It’s easy to get into a mindset that expects results immediately. I once talked to a friend who said, “I need to lose 30 pounds by last Saturday.” I know she was joking, but that type of thinking is an obstacle to real success. When we are impatient, we can become unrealistic. When we are unrealistic in our expectations - for example, wanting to see results “yesterday” like my friend wanted - we can give up, decide that it’s too hard, and lose faith in our ability to accomplish our goal.

How to Set and Achieve your Goals

No matter what time of year we set goals – New Years, the beginning of a school semester, starting a new job, retirement – it’s important to be realistic with your own expectations. Here is how to do just that:

  1. Write down what you want to do – for example, “Exercise 30 minutes 5 days per week.”
  2. Work on small goals that lead to the big goal – for example, “Walk 10 minutes three times a week on the treadmill.”  You can add 5 or 10 minutes or an additional day to your walk on the treadmill each week until you have achieved the long-term goal.
  3. Share your goal with a trusted friend, family member, or coworker who can cheer you on.
  4. Refuse to procrastinate. The hardest part is getting started – so get started!
  5. Put your attention on your intention. What do you intend to achieve by, for example, walking on the treadmill? Better stamina, fitting into that skinny pair of jeans, improved medical test results? Visualize the results you are looking for. Start thinking about how great you are going to feel to accomplish the goal!
  6. If needed, talk with your healthcare provider about your goal. Your primary care provider may be able to assist you with your goal and will likely be one of your biggest supporters along the way.

Although January 1 seems to be the time when many of us create resolutions or goals that may be quite beneficial for us and our families, the above ideas can be incorporated into any goal-setting activity any time of the year. For those who are starting on the path of New Year’s Resolutions, I applaud you. If you make your goal or resolution manageable, give procrastination the boot and build on your success. You can do it! I know you can.

Originally published 7/10/2018

Karen Williams, LIMHP
Karen Williams, LIMHP

Karen Williams, LIMHP is a Mental Health provider at CHI Health.

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