It’s a new year, and with a new year comes new goals, challenges, and aspirations. We tend to emphasize a new year as a time to hope for change, or maintaining good fortune in our lives. New Year’s resolutions are often made to address some of our most intrinsic, personal desires, reflecting a monumental change of either the self or those around us. New Year’s resolutions are also notoriously not upheld, yet we remain steadfast in our belief in creating them anyway. While there may not be widespread results of resolution success, it all starts with the idea, and we are better for it.
New Year’s resolutions, particularly health & fitness related goals (consistently some of the most popular resolutions), are too often trivialized and mocked by cynics. However, research suggests that making resolutions is a positive, proactive measure. Dr. Barbara Bushman, a clinical exercise specialist with the American College of Sports Medicine said “Research suggests that success is higher [among those who make resolutions], than those who make no resolutions at all.” So while those cynical friends of yours might point out that 90% of New Year’s resolutions dissolve within a month, keep in mind that your ideal resolutions are not in vain.
Of course, in all likelihood more than half the issue with that absurdly high resolution failure rate is the transition from the ideal to reality. Much is lost in translation when we focus too much on the big goal and not enough on the plan to attain it. Quick tips are to lower our New Year’s ambitions, plan ahead, keep track of our progress, tell a few friends about your goal (peer pressure can be a good thing sometimes!) and rewarding yourself for achieving staying on course one week at a time. If we can break those big goals into smaller parts, say like exercising first thing in the morning or right after work everyday, and eating one meal a week mindfully, we increase our chances of putting together that big picture. Tom Rath, a writer and expert on making these kind of changes, argues just for these “small wins” that result in an immediate payoff, and liken the chances of changing your habits overall. He even has a website that assess your habits and offers personalized suggestions.
So here in 2014, don’t be afraid of those ominous New Year’s resolutions, celebrate the idea of change you hope to make. Plan ahead, think small and keep yourself on schedule. Finding ways to better ourselves is important for our continued growth and development. Not to mention setting ourselves up for a series of small positive victories can give us that many more reasons to smile everyday. Dream big, think small and work your way into a routine. You might just find yourself living proof of your New Year’s resolution idea.