“Out with the old, in with the new” – hands up if you make New Years’ Resolutions?
Keep your hand up if you get to the end of the first or second week in January and the “new” resolution has gone the way of “the old”, i.e. “out”?
A study conducted by the University of Scranton found that 80% of people fail to keep their New Year’s Resolution. Only about 8% achieve their New Year’s Goals. I’m not sure what happens to the other 12% but suffice to say, Resolutions are VERY hard to stick with.
First off I must salute the 8% - all kudos to you. For the 80% (and the missing 12%) maybe this can help.
We have such big dreams, hopes, wishes and desires as we enter the New Year. I say, good on you if you desire to make changes to improve your lifestyle or your way of living, but how can we make it more likely to “stick” this time round?
For those who have given up on making such resolutions because they are sick and tired of being part of the 80% and don’t see the point in bashing their self-esteem, giving fuel to the guilt/blame monster in each of us, hopefully this might inspire you.
New Year’s Resolutions are generally grandiose and if we are being completely honest, ridiculously impossible to meet. Huge changes need to be made: “I’m going to give up eating junk and go full-on healthy eating!”; “I’m going to lose all my excess weight!”; “I’m going to write that novel!” Some of us may be able to go a week or two. Others might find there is something or someone inside them that sabotages all/most attempts from the get-go. Even when I really, really want to make a change there is a little rebellious part of me that pretty much puts hands on hips and says “you can’t make me” – (maybe that’s just me – embarrassing moment #1)
Firstly we need to realize that our Resolutions are TOO big, usually TOO general and TOO vague. What I have learned through my counselling career, and my own personal counselling journey, sometimes (most times) the changes need to be smaller. Instead of going “full-on healthy eating” from day one, maybe start with adding one vegetable or fruit to one daily meal, or maybe start with drinking one extra glass of water (or even one glass of water instead of the coffee/alcohol/fruit juice/soft drink).
When we consider how our bodies and minds respond to big changes in general we become aware of just how true the saying, “we are all creatures of habit”, actually is. If our “habit” has been eating more junk food than healthy food, then to change all of a sudden will be a shock to our system. We may just discover that our binges become bigger and longer; our emotions are wound so tight that any small thing sets us into a meltdown or rage. In the end we give up and add that to our litany of reasons to beat up on ourselves.
Secondly, we need to learn to manage our expectations. Now again this may just be me – so embarrassing moment #2 – but sometimes we expect to see greater returns for our two or three days into the resolution than is humanly possible and so we don’t see the point. Maybe the resolution needs to be seen more in the light of a life change or life re-evaluation. Eating healthier, losing weight, doing exercise might become making healthier choices. So if you manage to say no to the chocolate bar today that’s a healthy choice, if tomorrow that chocolate bar gets devoured then look at other aspects where you may have made a healthy choice (glass of water anyone?) Let’s not beat up on ourselves so much when we fall, have a misstep, or struggle through but rather speak with grace, mercy and love to ourselves “yes maybe I didn’t do so well today and while that makes me feel angry at myself I can start again tomorrow”. The failure is, in not even trying.
Finally, if we are truly wanting to chase/get that big dream, hope, wish or desire then look for someone who can be an accountability partner. This is not a person to whip you into doing whatever is needed but more a person who will encourage you, help you set goals, even mini goals, whether you stumble or not. Sometimes it is better to have someone who is not emotionally invested in you, or you in them, to be your accountability partner whether it be a friend, counsellor, coach, mentor or personal trainer.
Most importantly: whatever your life change/life re-evaluation is make sure it is something you truly dream, hope, wish or desire for yourself – not what you feel society or another person tells you.
Let us know if you make a life change or re-evaluation this New Year by commenting below or if you need an “accountability partner” make an appointment with one of the counsellors at Living Springs Counselling Centre, 9702 6687.
Georgi Watts & Melody Durand