New Year’s Resolutions
It’s unclear when exactly New Year’s resolutions became a tradition for many. The first record of one came in a 1671 entry from the diaries of Anne Halkett, a writer and member of the Scottish gentry, contains a number of pledges, typically taken from biblical verses such as “I will not offend any more”. Halkett titled this page “Resolutions”, and wrote them on January 2nd, which would possibly indicate that the practice was in use at the time, even if people did not refer to it as a New Year’s resolution.
I’m not a big fan of New Year’s resolutions due to the fact that many people do it as a tradition and a way to have fun and not to make serious healthy changes in their life. We are going to discuss reasons why they tend not to work so you can make better decisions for yourself.
- People are not specific enough. One of the most common I hear is “I want to be healthier.” What does that mean exactly? Does that mean you want to eat more vegetables? Eat less red meat? Work out more? We need to set specific goals in mind, first with a long term goal of say I want to lose twenty pounds this year and then follow that up with, I am going to change my eating habits by eating only 5 grams of sugar per serving and more vegetables. I am going to work out three times a week, by walking. These goals are specific and will help you change those unhealthy habits. It’s important when setting goals to make a long-term goal for example loosing twenty pounds, and then small goals that we know we can accomplish, eating more vegetables with dinner. Baby steps is the most important thing here.
- You’re treating your lifestyle changes like a sprint and not the marathon it is. Changing an unhealthy habit can take up to ninety days. That can feel like a lifetime when we are trying to make changes. As per number one, if you truly want to have your New Year’s resolutions stick then you are going to have to make lifestyle changes. This takes time! You are going to fall off the wagon, so to speak, don’t give up if you do, pick yourself up and dust yourself off and keep going. Don’t be hard on yourself when it does, learning to forgive yourself and move forward is an important step.
- Too much thinking and not enough doing. Thinking you want to make changes is the easy part, putting it into action is the hard part. Some people don’t know where to start, and the internet is a great source of information, it can also be overwhelming. If you are wanting to start eating healthier, going to your doctor or following a meal plan can be a start. Find which one is going to work best for you.
- Not tracking your progress. If your goal is to lose twenty pounds this year, this isn’t about getting on the scale every day. Pick a day and time and weigh yourself only on that day. Take a picture of yourself at the beginning of your journey and again in three months times. Sometimes it’s not about the number but how we look and feel about ourselves. Keep track of your eating for example and the days you did great. Give yourself a gold star, literally!
- No social support. It can be hard to stay motivated when we have no one to share our journey with. Try and find an accountability buddy, for those days when you are really struggling to get out of bed and work out, this way you have someone to be your cheerleader on your bad days. And you can also be their cheerleader when they need it.
- Figures are not in your favor. As per Statistic Brain Research Institute, only 8% of the people who make New Year’s resolutions can stick to it. I cannot repeat this enough, making changes must be thought of as lifestyle changes and not just something fun to do on New Year’s Day.
- Repeated failures lead to a loss of confidence. Repeated failures is going to upset your confidence and sense of self. If you have made resolutions before and failed, this can play on our confidence, we might think “Oh well I failed again.” This is why as with number one and two, making smaller goals at first will help give us our self-confidence back.
- You know what you want but you don’t know your why. When making changes we may not always know the reasons why. Even with losing weight, why is it you want to lose it? Do you want to feel sexy in your clothes? You want to be a positive example for your kids and those around you? Do you want to be healthy so you’ll have increased clarity, energy, and confidence?
I used the examples of weight loss and being healthier as this New Year’s resolutions because they tend to be the most popular changes people want, however your resolutions can be anything that you want to change. Do you want to learn healthy skills to learn how to manage your mental health? Do you want to change how you engage with your interpersonal relationships? Or are you unsure of what you would like to change because you are stuck? If you feel that you need help making lifestyle changes, please call Life Enhancement Counseling Services today at 407-443-8862 to schedule an appointment with one of our experienced mental health counselors.