As the first month of 2013 enters the home stretch, many people take a moment to look at the progress they have made with their New Years resolutions. January always provides an increase in gym memberships. Organic food sales are at their peak in January. Twelve-step meetings usually have their highest attendance in the first month of the year. Now that January is almost over, many are evaluating their progress.
The word “resolution” literally means a resolve or determination. In the context of New Years resolutions, the definition gets more specific: the act of resolving or determining upon an action or course of action, method, procedure, etc. In keeping with those definitions, any resolution made in the New Year is actually a pretty big deal. It’s an internal promise to change something; usually for the better.
If progress is not happening, here are some strategies that might help:
- Get accountability – many times, folks don’t share their resolutions with anyone else, which makes it easier to let things slide. Tell a good friend or family member of the plan and goal.
- Be realistic – one of the most popular changes people vow to make involves getting in shape. If expectations involve going from a couch potato to a gym rat, working out 4 days a week beginning January 1, then failure is sure to ensue. Start off with something achievable, such as working out one time for 15 – 30 minutes per week, and then gradually increase the frequency and time over the coming months.
- Be specific – if a resolution is to “eat healthier” in 2013, what does that really mean? Sit down and make a list of foods to increase and/or decrease. Research recipes on the Internet and plan menus in advance.
- Recognize accomplishments – in American culture, praise and recognition from outside sources is craved. But where's the medal for skipping dessert at a company dinner? It’s important to recognize internal accomplishments, big and small. Whether it be a sense of pride or a tangible reward, reinforcements for what has already been done increases chances of continuing.
If resolutions never seem to last, consider ending the tradition. Even though people choose to let things slide, a sense of failure almost always accompanies that choice. By not promising anything, the internal tug-of-war and the resulting stress that may cause more damage in the long run can be avoided.