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By Ryan Bowman—
Happy New Year! The ball has dropped; 365 days, 365 new chances. All the cliches associated with ringing in a new year have made their appearance as we leave 2020 behind and take the first steps into a new year. Wait, all but one lingering expectation, the infamous New Year’s Resolution. Though some are content just buying a new calendar, tradition insists we begin our next chapter with a resolution. A resolution beyond remembering to write the correct year. According to lifehack.org, the most common resolution is to get in shape. They report that over one-third of Americans kick off their new year with a goal to slim down, get healthy and overhaul their eating habits. Runners-up include improving focus, stressing less, kicking bad habits and making and saving more money.
Though individual reasons for establishing an appropriate resolution differ from person to person, research has shown that we are too hard on ourselves! In 2019 businessinsider.com reported that over 80% of people have failed their resolutions by February. As millions of Americans resolve to “be better” in some way, it is important to remember to be realistic. Verywellmind.com recommends ditching the ambiguity and focusing on a concrete, measurable goal. For instance, instead of vowing to just lose weight, commit to losing 10 pounds. Their experts suggest by setting your sights on something achievable, with an actual finish line, you improve your chances of not only seeing it through, but also being able to incorporate the changes into your daily life in such a way that they are more likely to stick around.
In addition to setting realistic and attainable goals for yourself, another key factor in the success of your resolutions is the “why” behind your goal. Psychiatrist Dr. Michael Bennett told the New York Times that it is important to set a goal for the right reasons. “If you do it out of the sense of self-hate or remorse or a strong passion in that moment, it doesn’t usually last long.” He goes on to recommend “a process where you are thinking more about what is good for you!”
We have established that a goal must be measurable and must be achievable, but another key piece of the success puzzle is your timeline. In order for your goal to actually be realistic, there must be an appropriate timeline. For example, losing 10 pounds is achievable, losing 10 pounds in 10 minutes however, sets you up to fail by establishing an unrealistic expectation right out of the gate. Charles Duhigg, author of “The Power of Habit” suggests making small changes toward gradual progress. “If you are building a habit, you’re planning for the next decade, not the next several months.”
No matter your “why,” be patient with yourself when establishing your resolutions. Focus on you, focus on being realistic, and resolve to keep those resolutions. And as the adage goes, 365 new days, and 365 new chances to see your resolutions through.