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Top New Year’s Resolutions
About half of us make at least one New Year Resolution every year: and out of the top five New Year’s Resolutions, Weight loss, exercise and healthier eating are numbers 1, 3 and 5!
But by mid January each year, 25 per cent of those who made resolutions have already abandoned them, increasing to 50% by the end of January, though the abandonment rate slows dramatically after that, with only 54% having dropped the ball after six months. So it looks like if you can manage to stick to your resolutions to the end of January, there is a good chance you will be able to stick to them for at least 6 months.
Why Do People Abandon Their Resolutions?
Making a resolution is a kind of goal setting: but if you fail to reach those goals, is that a sign of being weak willed or lazy? Not necessarily. Making a resolution or setting a goal without being willing to change the habits bound up with the situation you want to make different, means the failure rate is bound to be high. And sometimes, we are highly unrealistic about what we can achieve. This is called the “false hope syndrome” and you can look at it in two ways. One way to consider it, is that the goal we have set doesn’t match our own view of ourselves. So if we “see” ourselves as fat, lazy and an eater of junk food, then making a resolution to change that is unlikely to work: and chanting all the positive affirmations in the world probably won’t change it either. It is important in this case to actually believe that you can lose weight, keep up with an exercise program and eat more healthily.
The other way to look at this, is that it’s also important to be realistic in the sense that planning on running a marathon in two months time, losing 5 stone in weight in one month or eating 3 home-prepared meals a day, every day, may not be possible in your current lifestyle. Of course, there is the argument that if you shoot for the stars you might reach the moon but for many people, “only” reaching the moon is seen as “failure”, rather than the great success it really is. Reaching the moon, as you define it, is a great success to be celebrated, but planning on something more may definitely be false hope that can lead to giving up because the goal seems to be too hard to reach.
So while making changes is possible and making BIG changes can be done, it is important to believe that you can actually do it (as opposed to just “saying” that you can do it) and to plan for the other changes that will also be necessary in order for you to reach that goal.
A second reason for abandoning a resolution is that it hasn’t magically changed your life. Some people may think that losing weight or eating more healthily will change their lives and when it doesn’t, become discouraged and go back to the old behaviors. One example of weight loss “failure” came from an old-time actress, Hattie Jacques, now long dead. She was very overweight and set out once to lose weight. She explained in a later interview that she had once lost 5 stone in weight (70 pounds, 32 Kgs) but gave up slimming “because no one had noticed”. She was slimming to be seen differently by other people, rather than for herself.
One example of someone transforming their life comes from the area of personal finance, another big resolution that many people make for the New Year. Pam Young is a writer and was asked to write a book on improving your personal finances. The only problem was, as she explains herself, in her book, the GOOD book (Get Out Of Debt), her own personal finances, were in a mess. She had what she called the “windfall” mentality, that whenever she owed a lot on her credit cards, a “windfall” would magically appear and allow her to pay them off. In her book she describes how she suddenly realised WHY this was happening and how she met her inner child (that we all have) and worked with her to get out of debt. That meeting most certainly transformed her life for the better and the techniques she now teaches have allowed many others to become debt free also. Pam is a very funny writer and all her books are interesting and VERY useful, definitely not the usual, “just make a budget” waffle that many other writers produce which is no help to most of those in debt!
You may also enjoy watching a video on “The Credit Card Funeral” which Pam Young and her friend Marla Cilley (The FlyLady) did with Judge Cilley. This is extremely funny and shows credit cards being got rid of.
How to Achieve Your Dreams
It starts with a plan – of course – don’t groan. To fail to prepare is to prepare to fail. And this plan is an EASY one to follow, no big unrealistic, wishy-washy “wouldn’t it be nice…” ideas.
If your resolution was to eat food that is healthier than at present, then take five minutes to plan a grocery list that includes fruit and veg and meals that include them. Or plan to drink water or milk instead of soda, or plan how to cut down on sugar in your tea or coffee. Or plan to have healthy snacks with you so you don’t visit the vending machine for chocolate or candy.
If you wanted to take more exercise, plan how to add five minutes additional movement here and there in your day, such as parking further away, running a short distance or taking an evening walk.
If you want to lose weight, then take five minutes to decide what you can replace any particular food with, for instance, can you replace one of your potatoes with an extra serving of green vegetables?
“Just ten” means doing something for just ten minutes rather than thirty, or perhaps 10% rather than 100%. It’s another way of creating an easy small step, so if your goal is to get healthier and fitter, set a goal of 10 minutes exercise a day. You can gradually work up to a longer time, or even do another 10 minutes, later in the day but sometimes just getting started is the hardest part. Knowing you only have to do 10 minutes means you don’t have the “lack of time” excuse not to do it.
It’s the same with healthy eating and weight loss. Instead of totally changing your way of eating all at once, add fruit, or more vegetables to your diet or cut down your sugar intake a day by 10% (such as not eating 1 donut), and then gradually decrease that again until you’ve eliminated sugar from your diet. Or cook extra at one meal, so you have enough to put in the refrigerator or freezer for a quick and easy meal at another time.
These kinds of “take 5” and “take 10” small changes keep you moving in the right direction and can help you get unstuck if you begin to slide off track.
Get a Resolution Buddy
Find someone else who is trying to reach the same goal as you and help each other to stay on track. Having someone else to go jogging or swimming with, keeps you to your goal, because you won’t want to let your buddy down.
Make A Vision Board
A vision board is basically just a notice board with pictures of what you want to achieve. You can create one online if you don’t want to hang one in your house. If your goal is more exercise, you might include pictures of the running shoes you would like or of a particular area you would like to go running or of someone running and looking happy and free. Anything that makes you want to do that exercise regularly and that makes you want to achieve your goal.
Write In Your Bullet Journal
A bullet journal has different sections for different areas you want to work on. It’s a place to keep a motivational record of what you have done or visions of what you want to achieve (like the vision board). You can keep a record of how far you walked in each of your ten minute spells in “take 10” or of your green veggie or fruit intake for healthy eating. You can also keep a record of things you HAVEN’T done. For instance, if you normally have a donut for your break, keep a record of all the times you made a healthier choice, such as a piece of fruit. You can even give yourself points to add up to give yourself a reward of some kind.
Piggy-back something you want to change onto something already being done. For instance, add one more vegetable to your plate each day, or carry small hand weights on your ten minute walk.
Put It On Your Calendar
You schedule meetings and dentist appointments. Schedule exercise and healthy shopping trips too.
Make it Easy
Set out your workout clothes before you go to bed at night, so they are the only things available to put on when you get up. That starts you out on your (planned) morning exercise.
Get Back On Track
Dropping the ball is easy but it’s also possible to get back on track again. Remember, once you have carried out your resolution for a month, you are much less likely to drop it.