How to Rock Your Resolutions
January 6, 2017
New Year’s resolutions: one of the most popular–and ultimately unsuccessful–ways to kick off each new year. However, if we can learn to approach these resolutions effectively, we can make these goals for personal improvement stick. Check out these tips from two of our staff writers!
What a Year It Can Be…
Finally lose the tummy. Be nicer to my siblings. Stop procrastinating. Complement one person a day. Learn how to play the guitar. Eat breakfast everyday. Stop drinking soda.
Each year, millions of Americans set out to achieve these New Year’s resolutions. And each year, millions of Americans do not end up following through with them. To the perpetual optimists, faced with the reality of another failed New Year’s goal, I am here to comfort you. You are not solely to blame–there is a cause to these failed commitments.
Even the name of this phenomenon is enough to shatter dreams: False Hope Syndrome. A report from Janet Polivy and C. Peter Herman from the University of Toronto explain this syndrome as behavior “characterized by unrealistic expectations about the likely speed, amount, ease, and consequences of self-change attempts.”
But this shouldn’t be surprising to anyone. How can one reasonably be expected to break a habit, or start a new one at the start of the year when they are unrealistic like Polivy and Herman mention?
Kirsti A. Dyer, M.D., of Columbia College also emphasizes the trap of False Hope Syndrome by setting unrealistic goals: “One of the main reasons is because the goals that they set are too vague or too unrealistic. Goals like wanting to quickly lose 50 pounds, paying off credit card debt in a month, exercising two hours a day or suddenly start eating healthy foods all of the time may be difficult for people to achieve.”
AVHS social studies teacher Brett Melton recognizes the need for a realistic goal and realistic actions: “[New Year’s resolutions] often fail since they rarely move beyond the step of proposal. That is, the resolution itself is nothing more than words with no action plan.” People need to really evaluate the action needed for the goal, not just the goal itself. Failing to consider the actions necessary can lead to many unrealistic resolutions.
Senior Devon Mittelstaedt has experienced an unrealistic New Year’s resolution fail: “After one month of cutting out processed foods and sugar from our diet, my mother and I started to change back to our previous eating habits. It just wasn’t realistic considering the amount of time that it takes to prepare these meals. It became draining and obvious to us that it probably wasn’t going to happen.”
Even beyond unrealistic goals, if your goal is to break a bad habit, good luck. A 2009 study revealed that it takes about 66 days for someone to break a bad habit. So if you are starting on January 1st, it would take you until March 7th to break that bad habit. But on the bright side, if it is a leap year, March 6th is your day to shine!
Considering 25% of people quit their goals after one week, and 50% fail after three months, many, if not most of us, won’t even make it the 66 days on average to break bad habits. And to even further dispel any hope, 66 days is average to break a bad habit–it could be even longer.
But enough of the bad stuff. There are many ways to ensure that this is finally the year you follow through on your resolution…and not be part of the 25% that quit after just ONE week!
The first and easiest way to increase your success is to be realistic. Chances are, if you are setting a New Year’s resolution, it has been something you have tried to change in the past and “this is the year I will finally achieve it.” If you have struggled with your specific goal in the past, it will not be easy. Instead of completely cutting your daily coffee out of your routine, try to take coffee out of your diet every other day. Instead of running everyday when you only run once a week now, shoot for three times a week.
Senior Ethan Elumba believes that instead of setting one large and more than likely unrealistic New Year’s resolution, it is more advantageous to try and tackle multiple smaller goals: “We start to lose focus and beat ourselves down along the way. Therefore, it’s better to set realistic goals…setting a few small goals is more efficient than one huge one.”
Make it meaningful
If there is no passion behind the goal, how will you keep the motivation alive? If it is something that you genuinely want to achieve, go for it. When you start to see progress, it will have so much more worth in the long-run if it is something that matters to you.
Junior Molly Moynihan provides great insight on the reason New Year’s resolutions need to be meaningful: “It’s a long year and the more thought put into it, the better chance you will be able to keep and accomplish it.”
There are going to be very difficult times. And probably a lot of them, especially over the course of a whole year. However, with a positive outlook, it can help you conquer these hard times. When you desperately want the Big Mac and its ever-so-beautiful sauce, a good attitude can help you opt for a salad. After All, you can choose to view the glass half-empty or half-full.
Senior Elise Jensen notes the importance of positivity when completing your New Year’s resolutions: “If you aren’t optimistic you won’t be motivated. Then if you aren’t motivated, nothing gets done; it’s a domino effect.”
Surround yourself with good people
The cheesy sayings that your mother always told you are true. If your friends aren’t supportive of your goals, you will begin to question things yourself. With positive and encouraging friends, they will help keep you on track and ready for the obstacles you may face with your resolution.
Senior Kylie Maxfield understands the need to surround yourself with good people to achieve your New Year’s resolutions: “You can only achieve as much as those around you will allow you to. That’s why you always have to have people around you who also want what is best for you.”
Acknowledge your progress
Many times, your biggest critic is yourself. If even you don’t reward yourself, you can feel alone. You know that the resolution is going to be difficult, and any progress is good progress. It is a goal, not a ‘must.’
Sophomore Montana Helling is an advocate for keeping progress of your goals: “It’s important to acknowledge your New Year’s resolution progress because within a week you could be back into your old habits. Recording your progress sounds like a good way of staying on track and for once being able to complete your New Year’s resolution.
Regardless of what happens, look forward to the New Year. 2017 is here. With that, there will be many failed resolutions, hopefully many successful resolutions, and major change. Embrace the transitions and all of the new opportunities that 2017 will bring.
New Year, New You
5..4..3..2..1 Happy New Year! Just like that it’s 2017. While some may be terrified for what’s next to come in the new year, others see it as an opportunity to change and create a new sense of self.
January 1st marks the date for New Year’s resolutions, which are a bucket list of goals to be achieved by the end of the year. For some, the list can be multiple pages long, while other’s are only a few words. Some may choose material things, like get a new haircut, buy their dream car, or recreate their wardrobe. Others choose the body improvement tasks: go to the gym, eat healthy, quit smoking. And some go a different route: travel out of the country, meet the person of their dreams, or be a better person.
Whatever the list or task may be, they all lead back to the same thing—improving oneself and trying something new. While these lists are made with good intentions, the year often ends with no change.
People make New Year’s resolutions and end up not following through with them. This scenario happens for multiple reasons. Either they never had time or the goals were just overwhelming. For example, 67% of gym memberships go unused, and 80% of people who joined a gym in January 2012 quit within five months. These are overwhelming statistics showing that goals aren’t always easy.
When a New Year’s resolution is made, it starts with an idea, but that idea needs more to become a reality. Each goal needs a step-by-step plan laid out from start to finish. Then, there needs to be a good support system to keep the goal setter honest and focused. Lastly, the goal must be everywhere. Think Post-its all over the house, the inside of the car, and even in the office to act as a constant reminder. Setting reminders on a phone will give you notifications for when to do what.
When making a goal or resolution make sure it is SMART: significant, measurable, attainable, realistic, and timely. For example, wanting weight change can be a SMART goal, but remember the steps.
Significant (or specific). Your goal should mean something to you and be important. Also, it should be clearly defined and distinct. When setting a goal it is vital to know exactly what that goal is and how you want to achieve it. To go back to the weight change, if you are overweight or don’t like how you look, then make a goal to lose weight. It is significant and specific to you.
Measurable. You should be able to easily recognize if a change is occurring. It is important that you can tell if whatever you have planned to achieve your goal is ultimately working by asking yourself how much, how many, and how will I know when I achieved? Now even though your goal doesn’t have to be able to be physically measured, in the example of weight loss you can calculate just how much weight you have lost and how far you are from your goal.
Attainable. When creating a goal it is crucial that it can really happen. Say you make it your goal to attend the Olympics by the end of the year and the Olympics aren’t happening until 2020, that goal simply can’t happen; it is unattainable. Make your goal something that is possible for your timeline. Anyone can lose weight; it is just a matter of effort.
Realistic. Your goal should be something that can really happen. If your goal is to be able to fly, I hate to break it to you, but as of now humans cannot; it is an unrealistic goal. Your goal should be something you want to happen and is possible for you to achieve. Figuring out how much weight to lose can depend if it is realistic or not. If you choose to lose 100 pounds within a 3 month time period, your body cannot handle that kind of stress which makes it unrealistic and very unhealthy, but if you start small and build from there it will help you stay healthy and realistic.
Timely. You should set a time or date to when you want your goal to be complete. It is good to keep yourself on a timetable, so you have a better understanding of how you should plan out your steps to achieve your goal, as well as to create some urgency and keep yourself true to your goals. But for New Year’s resolutions, you have a year to complete them, so make your resolution a goal which can be achieved within a year.
While there are multiple different steps and ways to achieve your New Year’s resolutions, what matters is in the end are that they are completed to the best of your ability.
And remember, as stated by the ever so wise philanthropist, Sarah Ban Breathnach: “New Year’s Day. A fresh start. A new chapter in life waiting to be written. Today carve out a quiet interlude for yourself in which to dream, pen in hand. Only dreams give birth to change.”