It’s hard to believe that we are approaching the beginning of 2017. This is the time when many of us make our New Year’s Resolutions. Do you make a resolution or two each year? How successful are you at fulfilling your resolutions?
I recently saw a definition of a New Year’s Resolution as a “to do list” for the first week in January!
For many people, unfortunately, this joke is their reality. Research shows that only 8% of those who make New Year’s Resolutions are successful in achieving what they have resolved. Some say that the reason our resolutions don’t work is that they are sometimes based on wishful thinking. Who doesn’t want to be happier, thinner, fit, more financially secure, etc.! If only we could wave a magic wand and make it happen. Since that’s not possible, how can we help to ensure that the changes we want to see for ourselves are carried out?
The best advice for making positive changes in our lives is to be ready for the challenge. There are two basic strategies that can help you be successful:
1st Set realistic goals
- Choose one or two achievable goals.
- Don’t be overly aggressive with behavior change – take it slow!
- Write them down. If you can see them each day, it may give you the motivation you need.
2nd Create an environment that will help you to succeed.
- If you want to lose weight or become more fit, find an activity that you enjoy.
- Ask others to help. A walking buddy can help you commit to that daily walk.
- Enjoy a piece of fruit (or vegetable) every afternoon as a snack. This behavior helps you increase your fruit and veggie intake which may lead to behavior changes that encourage weight loss.
- Don’t buy junk food – fill your refrigerator and pantry with healthy food and snacks.
- If saving money is your goal, be sure you know the difference between your “wants” and “needs”.
- Increase your money management skills by taking a class on budgeting or finance.
As you are making these new habits a part of your life, it would be good to avoid places, people, and situations that you know encourage your old habits. Stay away from people who try to sabotage your plans for a healthier life. Start with a small change and once it becomes a habit, explore the next step that you can take to achieve your overall goal.
Set some milestone markers and reward yourself when you reach them. That first marker might be walking at least 3 days per week when your goal is 5 days. Buy yourself something fun – maybe a new pair of funky socks.
Maybe most importantly, don’t expect perfection! Remember, you want this to be a lifelong change. There will be times that you will slip back into old habits but don’t use that as an excuse to give up on your goals. Recognize your mistake, refocus and move forward.
Author: Marilyn Rabe, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, OSU Extension, Franklin County
Reviewed by: Michelle Treber, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, OSU Extension, Pickaway County