Dropping The Ball On New Year’s Resolutions

Faster than the ball drops in Times Square on New Year’s Eve, our New Year’s resolutions drop by the wayside. Making resolutions at the beginning of a new year is traditional, and failing to keep them is the norm. Our resolve to turn over a new leaf in the new year quickly dissolves. Follow through is sadly lacking.

According to research by the University of Scranton, only 8% of people achieve their New Year’s goals. The average New Year’s resolution is reportedly kept for a mere six weeks. Thus, the beginning of the year is the time to avoid going to the gym. Until mid-February the gym will be crowded; thereafter, you can have your pick of exercise equipment to use.

The most common New Year’s resolution made is to lose weight. Well, it’s easy to see why that goal probably won’t be met. Most resolvers will crash and burn on New Year’s Day. It’s a holiday with a gazillion bowl games on TV to watch. (OK, I exaggerate; there were six.) And what’s a bowl game without a bowl of chips and some dip to consume as we couch potatoes are glued to our TVs?

Scientists tell us that the very act of making a resolution improves your odds of success. Well, duh! There’s no goal to be met if you don’t set one. My mother would agree with the scientists on this one. “Nothing ventured, nothing gained,” she’d undoubtedly remark.

But setting a goal is where we typically set ourselves up for failure. While aiming high might be great for the U.S. Air Force, setting unrealistic goals is a poor strategy for those making New Year’s resolutions. Let’s get real. What can you honestly achieve? Face it. You will NOT lose twenty pounds in the first week of 2019 and likely not even in the month of January.

So what’s realistic? Let’s think baby steps and not running a marathon. A saying that has resonated with me is: “Yard by yard, life is hard. Inch by inch, life’s a cinch.” While we are not inchworms, the concept is applicable and appropriate. Start out with a small, achievable goal. You’ll be uplifted by your success and encouraged to continue on your resolution journey.

The concept sounds good, but what does that look like? Consider this example. While my dog Oryo would love for me to take her for a walk every day, the weather and the obligations of life make that goal pie in the sky. Walking her twice a week is a more achievable goal; and if I meet that goal I will be pumped up to walk her even more than that.

It might also be time to expand our resolution horizons. Losing weight, eating healthier, quitting smoking, and exercising more are pretty common resolutions. But are these the only ways to improve ourselves and our lives? No. And saying “no” is a great resolution. Author/chef (and wife of pro basketball player Stephen Curry) Ayesha Currry has a resolution to say “no” more during the coming year.

Women especially have a hard time saying no. We think we are superwomen and take on more than we should. It is not a crime to realize that there are limits to our time and energy, and choose to say “no” so as not to overextend ourselves. And we are more likely to succeed with a resolution such as this one. Saying “no” more means we have met this goal even if we only do it once. I’m thinking when we’ve done it once, it empowers us to do it again.

A year is a long time, although the years seem to pass more quickly the older I get. Another way to manage our resolutions to ensure success is to break down the time for accomplishing our goals. I may not be able to diet for 365 days, but I could certainly do it for one. Why do we feel we have to commit ourselves to an entire year when making a resolution? Sure, it’s a new year with blank pages on each day of the 2019 calendar. But every day is a new day giving us a fresh start. Perhaps we should consider starting small and set a goal for each day. A day is an inch, while a year is a yard. A year is hard; a day may not be a cinch, but it is doable.

While resolutions seem to be a big deal, they really aren’t if you stop to think about them for a moment. Resolutions require that you think about what you are going to do and have a plan for acting. Believe me, advance planning is an alien concept for some folks, but the concept is simple one. My dearly departed mother would sum the idea up like this:  “Failing to plan is planning to fail.”

And perhaps a good resolution for 2019 is to jettison the all or nothing concept for resolutions. While it is helpful to have specific and measurable goals, failing to attain the exact goal set doesn’t necessarily make you a failure. It simply means you did not reach the bar you set. For example, if you resolve to lose 20 pounds, but you only manage to take off 15, I’d hardly call this performance a failure. You are 15 pounds lighter and no doubt healthier. You are still better off than you were prior to setting the resolution. Isn’t progress a success in itself?

My New Year’s resolution is to think small. Rather than set a global goal for the year, I aim to set a daily goal. That’s more achievable and more practical. I’ve achieved my goal for today by posting this blog post. Yea me! I didn’t drop the ball on my New Year’s resolution–well, at least not today. There’s always tomorrow…

Just WONDER-ing: Did you make any New Year’s resolutions for 2019? Have you had success keeping resolutions in years past? Do you expect success with your resolutions for this year? Why or why not?






A Word For The Wise

Failing to plan is planning to fail–or so my mother told me.  With the start of a new year, plenty of folks are making plans which are doomed to fail.  These “plans” are resolutions.  Perhaps resolutions are not the right plans to be making; maybe we simply need a word.

The dictionary definition of a “resolution” is a firm decision to do or not do something.  Unsurprisingly, according to statisticbrain.com, the top resolution made at the beginning of 2017 was to lose weight.  See how skinny everyone is at the start of 2018?  No?  Well, that tells you how successful the losing weight resolution was.  Sure, the resolutioners had the best of intentions, but who can resist Valentine’s candy?  Of course, that’s assuming that the resolution even lasted until mid-February.  Raise your hand if you were watching the Super Bowl at the beginning of February while quaffing water and snacking on celery sticks.  Didn’t think so.

One way not to break a resolution is not to make one.  If Statisticbrain.com is to be believed, 42% of Americans NEVER make a New Year’s resolution.  While these non-committal Americans did not go down in flaming defeat, they did not achieve any goal either because none was identified.  You simply can’t reach a goal that is never set.

On the other hand, 41% of Americans, at least so statisticbrain.com says, usually make a resolution.  That’s less than half of our fellow countrymen who even make a stab at achieving some goal.  Aren’t we a motivated lot?  The inspired 41% who do make a resolution do not have good results from having done so.  Only 9.2% of that 41% felt that they were successful in achieving their resolution.

What’s up with this poor success rate?  Well, we may aim high by setting a goal, but perhaps we are aiming TOO high.  One is doomed to failure if the set goal is unrealistic.  While you may want to lose 30 pounds, perhaps 10 is more doable and might still allow you to gastronomically enjoy the Super Bowl.

I’ll confess that I’ve had varying results with past resolutions.  A few have been successfully achieved.  Others were mere pipe dreams.  I’m hesitant to say that the blame for the lack of success is my fault.  Surely it is more likely that the problem can be found in the plan I used to set/achieve my goals.  Yeah!  The problem is with the method (resolutions) and not me.

Apparently some other smart cookies have reached the same conclusion as I have.  Cue the trendy effort to choose a WORD for the year.  Who needs a bunch of words, i.e., a resolution, to help us?  Let’s simplify and make things easier to grasp and follow.  All we need is one word.  If you fail, then you probably didn’t select the magic word.

How does this word way work?  Assuming you want to lose weight, you might want to choose the word “exercise.”  If you want to quit smoking, you might choose the word “breathe.”  If you want to get your act together, you might want to choose the word “organize.”  Unfortunately, this approach seems a bit too simplistic to me.  A word is good for the big picture, but don’t you need a few more words with it to achieve success?  Wouldn’t some definitive steps for reaching your goal be helpful?

I’m going to keep an open mind and try the word approach this year.  Settling on one word is difficult, but I have cleverly chosen one with more than one application.  My word is “word.”  Yes, “word” is a four letter word, but I think it is one of which my mother would approve.

So what do I mean by “word?”  The first application of “word” is with my writing.  I love to write, and writing, of necessity, involves words.  Lots of words.  In a previous year I wrote a manuscript with approximately 81,600 words.  I want those words to be published so everyone can have the opportunity to read them.  Publication won’t occur without great effort and probably some rejections along the way.  But on my word, I am going to give it my best shot to see my book in print.  Not only will I need to market my words, but I’ve got to get all those words out of my brain and down on paper for several other writing ideas I have.  My word, I’m going to be busy with words!

The other meaning of the word “word” relates to my faith.  I want to read through God’s word again this year.  I want a deeper relationship with The Word who was there in the beginning.  I want to spread the word about The Word hopefully through both my written words and the words that I speak.

Upon reflection, maybe having a word of the year is the wise way to the word “success” in achieving goals.  We might be getting so bogged down in details and planning for our goal that we fail to focus on the goal itself.  It should be easier to remember and focus on a single word.  Will you give me your word that you’ll take this challenge to have a word for the year with me?

Just WONDER-ing:  What word would be a good focus for you this year?  Why?