While I love the optimism of New Year’s resolutions, enthusiasm and hope often fades within weeks and my efforts at self-improvement come to a whimpering end.
Let’s face it—most of us fail when it comes to sticking to resolutions. Caught up in the excitement of the New Year, we make lofty promises to ourselves—we’re going to do this, that, and the other thing. We expect too much and set ourselves up for failure.
Yet, we are eternally hopeful when the New Year comes around believing, without any credible evidence, that we can improve our lives . . . change is possible . . . we’re not going to be stuck in the same old rut again this year.
Tackling the Stumbling Blocks
Any number of reasons can waylay our best intentions; but there are simple, effective ways to stay on track.
- We make too many resolutions and try to do all of them at once. As noble as it is to begin dieting, quit smoking, and start an exercise program, it’s unrealistic to think you can do them all the same time.
Solution: Choose one resolution and focus on it.
- Resolutions are often vague. Saying you’re going to start an exercise program has no concrete plan of action.
Solution: Be specific—I’m going to walk more. And have a very specific plan—I’m going to park my car on the other side of the building at work, so I have farther to walk to my office.
- Having only a certain amount of enthusiasm and motivation, we spend all of our energy in the beginning and run out of steam.
Solution: Take each day as it comes and make changes gradually.
- We try to do something really difficult right away, become overwhelmed or intimidated by the difficulty, and quit.
Solution: Make resolutions that fit easily into your routine and lifestyle.
- We try to be “disciplined” and make unpleasant resolutions, but our nature won’t allow them to last. If we really don’t want to do something, we won’t be able to force ourselves to do it for long.
Solution: Focus on things you love. For instance, if you resolve to exercise more, but hate running, don’t even consider changing your daily routine to include a morning jog around the block. Find an exercise you like to do instead, like bike riding or walking the dog.
- There’s no accountability. If we fail, no one knows, it won’t be embarrassing, and no one will judge us for it.
Solution: Commit to your resolution(s) as publicly as possible. Tell your family, friends, and coworkers. Blog about it. Share your daily progress on Twitter, Facebook, or your social network/forum of choice.
- Life gets in the way. Things come up unexpectedly that keep us from sticking with a resolution. We get sick and don’t feel like jogging. We go to a dinner party and the main course is not on our diet plan.
Solution: If something comes up that prevents you from following a resolution you made, consider it a small bump in the road and forge on. It’s OK to take a break, slip and fall . . . just get back on it as soon as you can.