“A New Year’s resolution is something that goes in one year, and out the other.” -anonymous
Another year begins and students return from vacation with a list of resolutions, putting the average to-do list to shame. Rather than becoming overwhelmed and kicking this vital list to the waste bin by the end of January, following a simple but effective plan of action can help turn New Year’s goals into reality.
Whether it’s shedding those unwanted holiday pounds packed on by grandma’s sweet potato pie or devoting an extra hour each week to studies for a higher GPA, New Year’s resolutions often become more of a hindrance than a help without dedication and a simple formula for success. Those little reminders of failed resolutions can actually add to the winter blues that strike between the holidays and spring.
According to psychologist Lynn Bufka on the American Psychological Association website, “Setting small, attainable goals throughout the year, instead of a singular, overwhelming goal on Jan. 1, can help you reach whatever it is you strive for. Remember, it is not the extent of the change that matters, but rather the act of recognizing that lifestyle change is important and working toward it, one step at a time.”
Small, realistic goals spread throughout the course of a year have a better chance of being achieved successfully.
“My New Year’s resolution list usually starts with the desire to lose between 10 and 3,000 pounds.” -Nia Vardalos
Start with small, easily attainable goals as a warm up. If the resolution is to exercise more, begin by hitting the gym three days during week one and increasing the amount over time rather than aiming for an Olympic medal right out of the starting gate. If dieting is a goal, replace that usual
Pop Tart with some low fat yogurt and fruit at breakfast.
It takes 30 days to develop a new habit, so thinking that a behavior can be changed overnight will only lead to frustration. Set smaller time frames with smaller goals to avoid getting stressed out and throwing in the towel early on. If possible, write out a timeline and expectations one month at a time and be sure to record even the smallest success as a way of building up steam for more to come.
“May the New Year bring you courage to break your resolutions early! My own plan is to swear off every kind of virtue, so that I triumph even when I fail!” -Aleister Crowley
While everyone has one or two personality traits they wish to improve on, getting overwhelmed with resolutions that micromanage every aspect of an individual’s life will only lead to failure. Write out a mini-list of bullet points for future change and focus on one or two at a time instead of trying for
an extreme makeover.
Getting others involved in the goal is an excellent way to stay on track. Talk to friends and family about the goal, brainstorm ways to achieve it with like minds and be sure to share small successes.
Support groups for common resolutions already exist and will not only place an individual in the right environment for success, but may also bring new friends and experiences as a bonus. From diet and exercise groups to professional assistance with addictions, there is a group for almost
every possible resolution. If one cannot be found in the area, consider starting one.
“This year, let’s resolve to make better bad decisions” – Someecards
It is important to remember as resolutions are made and steps taken to reach the goal that no one is perfect. Instead of expecting perfection, focus on the successes made and be realistic in judging whether or not a plan for change is working. It is normal and perfectly acceptable to have a few hiccups along the road to success. No plan is set in stone and it is essential to stay flexible and roll with the punches.
The key when a mistake is made along the way is to keep pushing forward. Missing a gym day is no reason to give up on the goal of exercising more and that one sneaky cupcake isn’t enough of a reason to stop dieting. So at the top of the resolution list this year, make it a point to let the little mistakes go and keep moving towards goals.
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