New Year’s Resolutions. Every year people make a list of things they would like to quit, or things they would like to start, and then they vow to themselves, when the ball drops, to keep those promises. However, by February between 60 and 80 percent of those that made the resolutions in the first place, break their promises to themselves. Why does this happen, what can we do to keep the promises and is it healthy to make these resolutions in the first place.
When I was younger I would joke, “My resolution this year is to not make any resolutions at all.” “However,” I would continue, “I just broke my resolution to not make resolutions, so I failed again.” It was pretty much tongue in cheek, I don’t make resolutions once a year, because I feel that we need to work on self improvement all year long.
Back in January of 2015, my wife started us on Paleo diet, we did a quickstart program and by April Ist was down to 185lbs (I had lost 50lbs) and looked the best I had in years. My wife also lost a lot of weight and she was happier. The point was that we were each other’s support system, despite the fact it was not a New Year’s resolution, it was a promise that we made to each other. Granted, we didn’t set a specific goal, we just said we were going to change our eating habits – we were successful because we were one anothers support.
About three years ago, I also started working out, I had a friend at work and everyday we would compare notes on how our workouts went that morning. It was a daily thing we did, however, without that support (because I left that job) my exercising slacked off, until one day – out of the blue – he texted me and asked how my workout was, I was embarrassed to announce that I had not worked out for a while. He urged me to go back to working out, so I bought a gym membership.
Researchers indicate that if you give yourself a goal to work towards you will be more successful, because you have a point that you need to reach; one researcher suggested that writing down your goal and keeping it visible is a great way to keep track. Whether it is a specific weight or size, a number of words per day you want to write or how many contacts you want to make on a daily basis. This will make you more successful, because you have set a goal and in some cases a completion date.
Be easy on yourself with your resolutions. If you are not a marathon runner, but you want to run a marathon, don’t start your conditioning by running the full length of the marathon on the first day; instead work your way up to the full length. If you are quitting smoking, do it gradually – yes some people can quit cold turkey, but if you slowly go down, you will have greater success. It’s like eating a large meal, you don’t unhinge your jaw and swallow everything whole: you eat one bite at a time. Be easy on yourself.
Not just for January Anymore
Lastly, I think resolutions are good, but I don’t think we need to wait until the end of December to make decisions to change our lives. We can make those decisions at any time during the year. One year I decided to cut sugar out of my diet and I decided this in September. One of my friends, at the time, said I was crazy; because Halloween was coming up, my birthday, Thanksgiving and Christmas. She said it would be difficult, however, I cut sugar out of my coffee, didn’t eat candy or desserts and I was pretty happy about my success.
If you have made promises to yourself about changing your lifestyle for the better, I applaud you. Just remember, you need to have someone to support you – you can find that in person or online. You need to have a clear plan and if it helps, set an end date or an attainable goal to reach. Be easy on yourself and don’t take too big of a bite. However, you don’t have to wait till January 1st to get started. It is your life, it is your changes, you can do it – I believe in you.