January offers an opportunity for us to reinvent ourselves. It’s also a time for us to reflect on our resolutions and establish a road-map to accomplish these goals.
Forty-five percent of Americans make New Year’s resolutions yet only eight percent have long-term success. The University of Scranton’s Journal of Clinical Society found that despite the low number, people who explicitly make resolutions are 10 times more likely to attain their goals than those who do not.
Experts recommend making achievable, quantifiable resolutions to ensure successful results. While “losing weight” continues to top the list of resolutions made each year, older adults are cautioned against making these types of vague resolutions. A more realistic approach would be to “lose five pounds in one month by exercising twice per week and drinking one less soda each week”.
Additional tips for success include:
To thine own self be true
What have you wanted to change/accomplish? Make your resolution all about what you want; not what you “should” do. Though resolving to volunteer weekly is a commendable goal, if your heart isn’t truly into making such a commitment, it more than likely will not end well. There are numerous volunteer opportunities throughout the year in which you can partake. Remember, helping others should be done freely, not begrudgingly and certainly not out of guilt or obligation.
Less is more
Making a long list of resolutions can quickly feel overwhelming. “Where do I start?” “Is this something I really want to do?” Keep in mind that it’s far better to make 1-2 solid resolutions than trying to stick to a list of 10-15 goals. Focus your efforts on the ones that truly matter.
Failing to plan is planning to fail
How will you keep your resolution? Instead of looking at the bigger picture (i.e. becoming tech-savvy), create a series of smaller steps to accomplish your goal (i.e. signing up for a beginner’s computer class at the library or senior center). Be sure to track your progress and evaluate your efforts periodically.
Way to go!
You’re more likely to continue working on your resolution if you reward yourself for each milestone. Self-praise has been shown to boost motivation and self-esteem. According to “Psychology Today”, short-term reinforcement is key to keeping you on track. And, rewarding yourself as you go is a very important part of behavioral change. You’ll be focused and re-energized as the months go by.
Teamwork makes the dream work
Share your resolution with a spouse and/or close friend(s). They’ll be your cheerleaders on days you feel like quitting. Also consider finding a group interested in your resolution. If reading a new book each month was among your list of priorities, seek out a local book club for support and encouragement. Did you make a promise to yourself to be more social? Websites such as Meetup enables people to meet others in their local community who share their interest and hobbies. Be sure to practice caution and meet up with others in public settings.
Should you fall off the wagon, forgive yourself, get up and keep trekking along.