We often desire to make positive changes or set goals at the start of a new year; it’s tradition! According to a 2019 article published by PLOS ONE, 44% of people make New Year’s resolutions. The top resolutions were smoking cessation, weight loss, better overall health, and relationship improvements. But by the second week in February, most resolution-makers failed to achieve their goals. Resolutions for weight loss or smoking cessation were found to have the least success in follow-through. Setting a goal or making a resolution can ultimately help improve oneself, so why is it so challenging to maintain?
The type of resolutions you make may set you up for success or failure. Those whose resolutions were avoidance-based, such as completely abstaining from alcohol, had less success in achieving their goal. Smaller goals may be easier to accomplish as they have more direct objectives. For example, instead of setting a goal to exercise an hour every day, it might be more attainable to exercise one day per week for one hour for one month and increase from there.
Readiness to change is correlated to positive outcomes and meeting resolutions. Before making a resolution, consider an action plan that describes step-by-step how you plan to meet your goals.
How to keep your resolutions:
Set an obtainable resolution. For example, an alternative to saying, “I will lose 20lbs,” maybe “I will decrease fast food and soda in my diet.” Consider the time you can dedicate to achieving your goal. Do you have the resources needed? If you cannot pay for a personal trainer, search for local walking and hiking trails. Resolutions can also begin at any time and may be more achievable when the timing aligns with your motivation.
Goals like “I am going to eat better” are not specific enough. Think about how you specifically want to make changes. Perhaps “I am going incorporate a vegetable with dinner” or “I am going to meal prep all lunch meals for the week on the weekend.” If you track your daily steps, aim to increase your steps by ten every day.
Be flexible with perceived setbacks. Changing habits can be challenging. Reward yourself for small successes and maintain motivation.
Your primary care physician can be a significant resource and support. Your physician can help identify obstacles to achieving your goals or discuss ways to optimize your resolution. They may also help identify resources that are in your current benefits. Primary care physicians can also help to offer accountability.
We all can make positive changes. The new year can be a great time to create a resolution, and with intention and support, achieve it!