New Year, New Resolve: How to be Successful in Making Changes

Today is January 28th, how well have you stuck to your New Year’s resolutions? If you are like many people, you have begun to falter or have given up completely by now. If you are still going strong, I commend you!

Each year many people decide to create resolutions to make changes in their lives, whether it is to quit smoking, to lose weight, to read more, etc. By the end of January many people have given up or fizzled out. According to U.S. News, by the second week of February 80% of people who have made a New Year’s resolution will have already failed to keep it. Why?

One reason is that people pick unrealistic, hard to keep resolutions. Give up smoking cold turkey after fifteen years of smoking, but still hang around other people who smoke in front of you? Vow to run five miles each morning outdoors in the beginning of a frigid January but don’t have experience either running or running in cold weather? Decide to not snack between meals but have junk food all over the house tempting you at every turn? You might start out strong but the harder the goal the more you may start to sabotage yourself by procrastinating, cheating, psyching or stressing yourself out, and finally give up. These goals are not impossible, by any means, but the more attainable the goal the likelier you are to achieve success.

Often resolutions involve making BIG life changes. Sometimes this can be several big life changes all at once- for instance, my friend Constance decided that she was going to wake up at 5:00 a.m. every morning to go to the gym, give up eating carbs, and quit drinking wine. It was hard to make so many big changes all at once, and after a few days she had slipped back into her old habits and daily routine. And let’s be honest, even though the beginning of a new year sounds like a great time for making changes, lots of people are still carrying stress and holiday burnout and it is just too much.

This year I resolved to make several changes for myself:

  1. Get more steps in daily
  2. Eat healthier
  3. Get more sleep
  4. Lose weight
  5. Have more fun
  6. Procrastinate less
  7. Wash my face before bed
  8. Declutter/be more organized
  9. Make more time to be creative

How have I done so far? Honestly, not too great. January has been a pretty shitty month thus far. I have had a migraine for 4 days out of the month. I had muscle spasms in my back, neck, and jaw for almost two weeks, which caused me a lot of pain. I did not exercise as much as I had planned due to not feeling well. I didn’t eat a lot because of nausea associated with my migraines and jaw spasms, but unfortunately that didn’t lead to me losing any weight.

On a positive note, I have made a point of trying to procrastinate less and try to wash dishes or load the dishwasher as soon as we are finished eating. I have been trying to wash one load of laundry a day instead of saving it all for Saturday…. But I must admit that when I had a migraine and muscle spasms I didn’t want to be bothered by the noisy washer and dryer so I did slack on getting chores done.

The big thing is I have not given up. I see where I am lacking and I am digging my heels in and working harder. For supper last night my husband wanted chicken fried steak with mashed potatoes, gravy, and corn. I cooked it, but I only dished out half a serving for myself and started the meal with a big spinach salad. When the family had ice cream later, I ate a sweet Pink Lady apple and was perfectly satisfied. At bedtime when I am feeling lazy and don’t want to go out to the hallway to the linen closet for a washcloth for my face, now I don’t have to because I placed a special container for them under my sink vanity. I am making changes bit by bit and putting the infrastructure in place to help myself succeed. I have inspirational signs tacked to my cubicle at work. I filled my purse, fridge, desk, and cabinets at home with healthy snacks. I bought a food journal and have been religiously entering my food in it (even when I don’t eat as good as I should). I keep my eye on the prize and my head up.

So how do we make resolutions that will stick and be successful?

  1. Choose an attainable goal and set yourself up to succeed.
  2. Start small. Don’t take on too many changes at once.
  3. Share. Tell someone else what you are doing. By telling someone it is easier to hold yourself accountable because you know that they know what you promised you were going to do.
  4. Don’t do it alone, get support. Having a team cheering you on really does help, whether it is a friend, family member, a Weight Watchers group, or a workout buddy.
  5. Don’t quit cold turkey. By easing into a goal you can make it easier to succeed. Instead of giving up your nightly bowl of ice cream, maybe eat half of your normal amount, then gradually skip a day or two and see how it goes not eating any at all.
  6. Reward yourself for meeting a goal, no matter how small.
  7. Don’t give up. Try, try again.
  8. Check in often. Adjust as necessary
  9. Visualize
  10. Be your own cheerleader
  11. Write it down

I am trying hard to be my own cheerleader and keep my spirits up even when I get discouraged.

Did you make a resolution this year? How are you doing?

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