A simple search for New Year’s Resolutions on the internet and you’ll get bombarded by lists of why they don’t work. If you want four, or six, or eight, or even 15 reasons, the internet has a blog, an article, or a post for you. There are also statistics. A third fail in the first week, 75% fail by the end of January, 88% fail overall. The landscape is pretty grim.
Yet, as members of the wellness community, we see change happen every day. We see changes that make people healthier and more, well. So the issue isn’t resolving to change. The thing is…how we resolve to change. One article mentioned that resolutions are often about what we think we should do, not what we want to do, and so they fail (http://www.lifehack.org/articles/lifestyle/new-years-resolutions-dont-work-heres-why.html). That writer might have a point. After all, our commitment levels are influenced by our needs and wants.
Wellness experts have also found that many resolutions are too broad. For instance, there is a difference between resolving to lose weight and resolving to eat more greens at every meal. One is a very large and unspecific goal. The other is a specific strategy to reach a goal which makes it more manageable.
If you insist on having a New Year’s Resolution, here are a few tips inspired by PsychCentral.com (http://psychcentral.com/lib/rethink-those-failed-new-years-resolutions/00018625).
First, consider starting before New Year’s Eve! The resolution is about change, so timing shouldn’t matter. If you need to give yourself “free” days around the holidays, remember a one- or two-day break doesn’t mean failure. Change is long term and you can always pick up where you left off.
Then set small, doable, intermediate goals. Take the example about losing weight above…what can you specifically do to get your diet or exercise on track?
Make a plan for these specific changes. If your resolution is to be more social, how are you going to implement that plan? Who will you call? Do you want to set a goal for at least one weekly outing?
Go public. Tell people about your plan so they can support you and check in on you. Everything is easier with support.
Keep track of your progress. If your goal is to have more occupational wellness, what are steps you need to take to achieve that goal. Write them down with an estimated timeline and check off each thing you have accomplished.
Set up a compatible reward system. Once you check off progress points to your goal, give yourself a reward. From the school-inspired gold stars to a new kitchen gadget, rewards big and small are a symbol that we have accomplished something. Allow yourself moments to enjoy your own accomplishments.