By: Pamela Egan, FNP-C CDE
Keys to keeping your New Year’s resolution
Making a New Year’s resolution is the easy part. Keeping the resolution is the hard part. On New Years Eve, we have that sense of rekindling, a new beginning, and the awareness of having eaten too much over the holidays. This years going to be different right – even though last years resolutions didn’t make it past the first week of January.
Lose weight, exercise and, of course, stress management. Was last year’s resolution a meaningless and insincere effort? Did you have a plan? Without a plan, we all end up feeling guilty and incompetent.
Oh, you don’t know how to make a resolution? The following list of generic New Year’s resolutions are the most common: exercise, get in shape, help medical science, smile more, change careers, quit smoking, get a life, stop feeling guilty, save money, make more money, increase productivity, go back to school, be happy, honesty, lose weight, eat better, relax more, healthy lifestyle, get more sleep, get a new job, stress management and get organized.
Now that your resolution is made for 2003, how can you achieve success? Remember, after three short weeks a new habit is formed. Here are a few goal setting tips to get you started:
Don’t try everything at once. Rather than having 50 resolutions on your list, focus on fulfilling one or two of the most important goals. Take one day at a time.
Make a plan. Once you know what your resolution is, try to break it down. Have a starting point. For instance, you might start walking 15 minutes a day and gradually build up to a six mile jog. Plan the time of day that will be your exercise time. Yes, set your alarm 30 minutes earlier if that is the only time to fit exercise in your busy schedule.
Write it down. Write down your resolution and your plan of action. Stick it up on your bathroom mirror or file cabinet at work. You’ll have a constant reminder of the resolution.
Word it carefully. Not just, “I’m going to exercise more”. Be specific, such as “I’m going to set my alarm at 6:30 a.m., get up, and walk 30 minutes.”
Remember, you may have to force yourself the first three weeks, then the habit will be formed. We can form good habits just as easily as bad habits.
Who thought of New Year’s resolutions anyway? The tradition is as old as New Year’s celebrations. The Babylonians celebrated New Years day over four thousand years ago, although their celebration was in March rather than in January. It coincided with the spring planting of crops. If you have a false start, your can always start anew in March.
The New Year, no matter when people have celebrated it, has always been a time for looking back to the past, and more importantly, forward to the coming year. It’s time to reflect on the changes we want, or often need, if we’re to have the motivation move forward.
Resolutions are a reflection of the Babylonians’ belief that what a person does on the first day of the New Year will have an effect throughout the entire year.
This article was originally published January 6, 2003 in The St. Tammany News.