By Tammy Trail
We all know that January 1st is traditionally the day that we make resolutions to change something in the coming year. It’s the reason gym memberships, Google searches for diets, and self-help book sales all go up at the beginning of the year.
My husband and I will sit down sometime in January to make goals for the coming year. Usually we set personal, financial, and household goals. Sometimes we are able to set the goal, other years we have failed miserably. I really started thinking about why we don’t, or can’t achieve our resolutions after the first of the year.
To tell you the truth, 2014 was a very hard year for us financially. My poor, hard working husband did not get paid for three months out of twelve that year. I was not working full time then, I am now. I don’t know how we did it, but God saw fit to help us make it through. We almost lost our house, we got behind in some of our bills, and we were very thankful for every gain we made. It has taken us a whole year to breathe a little easier. For us, quitting was never an option on that front. Weight loss? Now, that’s a whole other story.
I did some exploring around the internet and asked the question: “Why do New Year’s Resolutions fail?” Here is what I found. These are the top resolutions: Weight loss, exercise, stop smoking, better money management, and debt reduction. Sound familiar? I think that just about sums it up for me too.
The reason most people don’t follow through with their resolutions is that most of us set unrealistic goals. It’s been called the false hope syndrome. According to Psychology Today; Professor Peter Herman says this syndrome is explained as “setting a resolution that is significantly out of alignment with an internal view of ourselves. This principle reflects that of making positive affirmations. When you make positive affirmations about yourself that you don’t really believe, the positive affirmations don’t work, and they can damage your self-esteem.”
To make resolutions work you may need to “rewire” your brain. Through the use of MRI’s, scientist have found habitual behavior is created by thought patterns formed by neural pathways, and memories which become the default basis for your brain when faced with a decision or choice. Change requires making new neural pathways and new thinking.
So some suggested ways to do that:
- Focus on one resolution at a time.
- Set realistic goals. Like losing 10 pounds in 90 days instead of focusing the whole 60 pounds you actually should lose.
- Take small steps. Many people give up because the goal is too big and they think it all has to be done at once. You need to walk before you can run.
- Have an accountability partner.
- Celebrate between your milestones. This makes the journey to the goal more fun.
- Focus on new behaviors in order to change your habits. I remember when I quit smoking. I told myself that if I gave in and smoke “just one cigarette” I would be starting all over again. I didn’t want to lose the non-smoking days I had gained.
- Focus on today. What can you do in the present to get to your goal?
- Don’t live in the past. Don’t fret about the future. Take care of today and take note of what caused you to want to give in. For me, when I get stressed I crave chocolate. Next time instead of grabbing a tin foil covered treat, I should drink a glass of water instead.
- When you fall off the “wagon” don’t beat yourself up. Tomorrow is another day.
It’s all easier said than done. I, myself have more than one or two things I would like to change. I know it will all take time. Maybe this time next year I can tell you how I did it, or start all over again.
I would like to know if you have a new years resolution. Care to share them with us?