Regardless of your age, January is a great time for New Year’s Resolutions. It’s a time to turn the page, to start over, to take a “mulligan” for all the things that weren’t done the right way in the past.
The problem is that while resolutions are all well and good, the odds are overwhelming that by February they will have long been forgotten. Like the lights and ornaments that are packed away after the holiday season, it becomes a return to “business as usual” for most.
According to an article in the Journal of Psychology, about 50 percent of Americans make resolutions at this time of year when it comes to their health (lose weight, exercise more, stop smoking) and/or their finances. Unfortunately, it’s also been found that less than 10 percent actually keep them. So, what can you do to improve the odds when it comes to your health?
Here are some things to consider:
1. Make your goals doable. Saying, for example, that you will look to reduce your cholesterol level, means more than saying you’re going to drop it 60 points.
2. Look to make incremental changes over a specific time period. Rather than saying “I’m going to lose 60 pounds,” shoot to lose 10 pounds by April 1st.
3. Take small steps. Many people quit because they become quickly overwhelmed by the goals they’ve set for themselves. Don’t shoot for the moon – getting off the ground is more important.
4. Find someone to keep you accountable and on course. Anyone who sets a goal will have good days and bad days. It certainly helps when you have someone there to pat you on the back when things are going well, and to motivate you and keep you going when things are not.
5. Focus on the here and now. Don’t worry about six months from today. Just do what you can today towards meeting your goal today.
6. Stay away from making all or nothing resolutions. Having the goal, for example, of never having another alcoholic drink will become hollow once you have one. However, following the goal of, say, only having one drink a day, will keep you going.
7. Be flexible. Don’t turn resolutions into an all or nothing scenario. If you find that you can’t keep to walking three days a week, be satisfied with twice a week and look into increasing it when you can. That’s far better than falling short and throwing in the towel.
It’s a good idea to use the energy of the New Year as a time to make changes in your life. Doing it the right way, will make it more than just talk.