Hello 2014! Are you still waiting until next week to start working on your resolutions? Well, why? Why have you waited for the past year? Last month I wrote in my post All Years Resolutions- Part 1 that we shouldn’t have to wait to make changes that benefit our lives. Of the 45% of Americans that make New Years Resolutions, only 8% are successful in achieving them. Chances are, many of our resolutions have been carried on from year to year. The following are some of the reasons that keep us from achieving our goals.
Unreasonable expectations: We as human beings are incredibly hard on ourselves and it does not help that we are constantly trying to be “better,” “fitter,” “richer,” etc. We constantly strive for this different version of ourselves and are never satisfied. How many of us finally reach our goal only to find something else to try to “fix?” Many of us are also striving for perfection, which is unattainable; so when we don’t achieve this we feel disappointment. (For those of you struggling with your body image, I suggest you watch this video on airbrushing in advertising). There is nothing wrong with having high standards, but make sure it is an attainable goal. I also encourage you to look at your goals from the perspective of improving meaningful attributes of your life. Instead of wanting to be a certain size or shape, think about wanting to be healthy. If you approach it this way you will achieve your goals in ways that are directed at self-respect rather than at superficial ideals. For example, wanting to be healthy rather than “hot” will help you make the choices that will eventually lead to a healthy looking body.
Wanting instant results: Certain issues did not happen overnight. We are creatures of habit so changing habits takes some time (they say it takes 21 days…) Healthy life changes should be part of a daily regimen, not to be packed into 2 months of the beginning of the year. Remember, delayed gratification is important. Let’s take weight loss, for example. While a weight loss pill may take the weight off in a short period of time, you still have not made the changes to your diet and lifestyle that will lead you to gain the weight back once you have stopped the pill.
Trying to do too much too fast: New Years Resolutions are exciting. It gives us something to talk about and something to look forward to starting off the new year. Sometimes, however, the excitement drives us to do everything at once and this can be overwhelming. This can lead to not being able to balance everything else in our lives and eventually to burn-out. This in turn leads to frustration and may prevent us from taking any more steps to making changes or moving toward our goals. Instead, focus on what you are capable of fitting into your schedule and prioritize. Cleaning the attic can probably wait. Make a daily commitment to yourself and set short term goals. Let’s take a look at some common resolutions and some examples of how to make daily changes related to each:
– Weight Loss: It’ s probably not a good idea to start P90X if you haven’t been physically active for awhile. You may either injure yourself, or feel ill afterward and hate the thought of any exercise in the future. A better option would be to start off slow with walking or light exercise to build up both endurance and strength and then gradually increase the intensity of your workout. Also get in the habit of exercising when you get home on certain days of the week. Don’t forget to choose the healthy food options on your lunch break.
– Organization issues: Everyday throw away a few things you don’t need. Get in the habit of putting things away right after you use them. Clean up any messes before going to bed so that you can wake up to a fresh start!
– Debt issues: Cancel a subscription to that magazine you never read. Cook instead of eating out (this will also help with weight loss!)… who knows, with the money you save you may be able to take that dream vacation on your list after all!
These are only a few examples of little things you can do, and these changes will add up in the long term. Remember, change takes time and if we do not achieve all of our goals in one month we still have a whole year and a whole life to do so. (This does not mean putting things off however!)
Excuses: Anyone can make time for what they prioritize. TALK is cheap. The time you spend talking can be time spent doing. Avoid procrastination. Get started on your goals now. If you don’t start your exercise regimen today, when will you?
Focusing only on the outcome: Remember, it’s about the journey, not the destination. It’s important to have your goal in mind but the way there may not pan out how you expect. And if you do achieve your goal, how much satisfaction will you have if the process was tedious and stressful? Let it flow. Make it fun. Want to eat healthy? Find fun recipes or make cooking an enjoyable family affair. Are you dreading the gym? Why not join a dance fitness class or walk outside and enjoy the scenery?
The next post is about the mental and emotional obstacles that prevent us from achieving our goals. Until then I ask you, what has kept you from accomplishing your goals?
Aunna Pourang, MD is a board certified family physician who lives in Jacksonville, FL. It is her journey to wholeness that she learned the importance of healing the mind, body and spirit to bring true happiness and health to her life. It is through this blog she wishes to help others do the same.