By Felecia Sumner, D.O., Crozer-Keystone Family Medicine Physician
The New Year began not too long ago, but chances are good that many of those optimistic resolution makers have already failed. When January 1 rolls around, people ambitiously start eating healthier, join a gym and quit smoking cold turkey in hopes of achieving their New Year’s resolution.
But statistics show that the majority of people who make these resolutions will never follow through. A new study shows that nearly half of Americans make New Year’s resolutions, but less than 10 percent of us are successful.
If you happen to fall into the group of failed “resolution-ers”, don’t fret. A new day gives you another opportunity to work toward that goal – don’t wait for another new year, new week or another day that gives you permission to procrastinate. Think of the “Nike” way – “just do it”…now.
But before you embark on that healthy resolution again, here are some tips on how to make it stick this time:
First, re-evaluate your original resolution. Was it too vague? Did it involve a lot of change all at once? This time around, tweak your resolution to make it specific. People who set vague goals are more likely to fail. Set a well-defined goal and create a plan.
For instance, instead of setting the goal to lose weight or go to the gym, figure out a specific and realistic amount of weight to lose and which days and times you’ll go to the gym. Writing it down also helps.
Speaking of writing it down, consider keeping a log. Tracking your progress will help you stick to your resolution. Studies have found that two-thirds of people find progress to be motivating and the more you monitor your performance, the better job you’ll do at sticking to your goals.
Be patient. It’s okay when you have a rough day. Not every day is going to be easy. But, remember, each successful day is a reach closer to your goal. It takes approximately 6-8 weeks to form or break a habit; so keeping that date on your calendar can sometimes be further motivation towards not dreading the next morning.
Enlist a friend to help. Research shows that people who share their goals with a friend are 33 percent more successful than those who don’t. Tell someone important to you what you’re doing and then ask them for their help. Ask them to check in with you each week or even every day to see if you’re continuing to follow through on your goal. You can offer to help them remain committed to their resolution as well, making you both more likely to achieve your 2015 resolutions.
Reward yourself. Throughout your journey toward your final goal, it’s important to acknowledge that you’re succeeding and making progress. If your goal is to lose 20 pounds, then losing ten or even just the first few pounds is an accomplishment worth celebrating. This will further fuel your desire to keep going.
And if you fail to meet a goal, don’t beat yourself up over it. Just pick up where you left off. A new year is just the perfect time to track life’s progress – time to reflect and resolve. If today wasn’t so great, don’t worry. There are 365 days this year to get it right.