Re-Thinking Your New Year’s Resolutions

By Emily Hulse, MS

HAPPY NEW YEAR!  Of course, with a New Year comes the ever popular New Year’s Resolutions!  Personally, I have a love-hate relationship with New Year’s Resolutions. 

I LOVE the idea of:

  • Setting goals for myself and better yet, reaching those goals.
  • Getting a journal and pen out and writing down my goals.
  • Bettering myself, either physically, mentally, and/or spiritually, as a result of these new goals. 
  • The feeling of having a fresh start on something.

I HATE the idea of:

  • People setting themselves up for failure immediately because of unrealistic resolutions.
  • That almost everyone’s resolutions seem to revolve around losing weight.  (In fact, losing weight was in the top 3 Resolutions for 2013.)
  • People having great resolutions set but then feeling like they don’t have the resources, knowledge, means, etc. to be able to reach them.

Here’s some grim statistics about New Year’s Resolutions.  According to research

performed by the University of Scranton, approximately 45% of Americans make New Year’s Resolutions, 25% of people who make New Year’s Resolutions don’t even make it past the first week, and only 8% of people are successful in achieving their resolution.  Why such grim statistics?  After working in the corporate wellness and fitness industry, I can honestly say these statistics aren’t surprising at all.  We would see the gym packed like sardines the first week of January and then quickly taper off in the coming weeks.  The hype of New Year’s Resolutions was generally short-lived and hearing many people’s goals I can understand why.  So based on what I’ve learned from being in the health field thus far, I want to offer my top 5 tips for more successful New Year’s Resolutions:

1.)     Set SMART goals.  Meaning your goals are Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-Bound.  SMART goals help you to focus on a particular behavior, stay motivated, track your progress, and increase your chance of success.  For example, many people will say their resolution is to eat healthier or to work out more.  Let’s make these good goals into SMART goals:

  • I will eat at least 2 cups of fruit every day for the next month.
  • I will exercise for 30 minutes, 4 times a week for the next month; two of the times will be cardio/aerobic exercise and the other two will be strength training exercise.

2.)    Share your goal(s) with someone you trust; this person can be valuable in helping keep you motivated and on track.  Having someone to be accountable to helps increase your likelihood of meeting your goal.

3.)    You probably will have days or even weeks where you don’t do that great on your goals; realize that life happens and it’s OK.  I’ve seen this happen to people and instead of just moving onto the next day or week they want to give up completely on their goals.  Don’t let these off days or weeks bring you down, instead just try to make the next one better.

4.)    Think outside of the box – don’t think losing weight is the only New Year’s Resolution out there.  Instead, choose a health behavior of yours that needs improvement, such as eating more vegetables, drinking more water, drinking less sugar-sweetened beverages, getting more sleep, etc., and set a SMART goal in regards to that behavior.  Often times, by improving health behaviors such as the ones mentioned above, weight loss will still be one of the results people see.

5.)    After you’ve decided on your New Year’s Resolutions and set your SMART goals (which I wouldn’t recommend setting more than a couple goals at a time), write down what the possible barriers are going to be in reaching them and then brainstorm possible ways to overcome these barriers.  It’s important to recognize from the beginning that there will be obstacles and you’ll be better prepared to meet your goal if you can figure out ways to break these barriers down.  Remember that sometimes your friends, family members, and co-workers can also be helpful in coming up with ways to combat your barriers.

Wishing you the best with your 2014 New Year’s Resolutions!  HAPPY NEW YEAR! 

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