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?