What are your New Year’s Resolutions? The Top 10 New Years Resolutions for 2015 (Updated for 2015) revolved around, yes, you guessed it: health and happiness! During many of my patient encounters, I go over the same things about healthy diet, quitting smoking, starting an exercise regimen, etc. I hear many excuses, but for some reason, it’s during this time of the year when people start making more efforts to try to make changes. Did you know that according to the University of Scranton Journal of Psychology, in 2012, of the 45% of Americans that made New Years Resolutions, only 8% were successful in achieving them? While I do see many people making an effort at the beginning of the year, I would say that by March many people go back to their old routines.
So why does this happen? There is nothing really different about the New Year except for a change in the date. So when my patients tell me they are going to start eating healthy and exercising after the holidays, I ask them, “Why not today?” Naturally the thought of a new year causes many of us to evaluate the past year and think of what we want in our lives for the next. Still, why wait and procrastinate on making changes that benefit our lives?
The following are some tips meant to help ensure your success in achieving your goals.
First: Make a list of EVERYTHING you would like to work on, change, have, etc.
Second: Make a new list from the first, prioritizing the most important to the least important in terms of what you would benefit from changing sooner rather than later. Health and financial/legal issues would probably be better listed before “buy brand new car.” Also, is there anything you want to change that is ok the way it is? If so, your efforts would be better spent working on something that you would benefit from improving.
Take out another piece of paper and write down everything you are grateful for and proud of over the past year. It may be hard to think of things at first because we tend to focus on the negative (Read more on gratitude here). If we try hard enough, however, we will find that there is also a lot to be happy about. The “little” things such as being alive, having our family around us, having basic survival needs are important too.
Compare your lists. How do you feel when you read each list? The “resolutions” list may bring on strong emotions. There is no reason for negative emotions to be dominant over the positive ones, except for what you are focusing on. So even if this time of reflection may bring on negative feelings, make sure to think about all the great things going on as well.
It is important to be honest with yourself during this step. Review the first list and ask yourself, “Why do I want this? What benefit will it bring to my life?” and write the answer next to each item.
If there is anything on your list to try to prove something to someone else or make someone else happy, consider whether or not this is actually important to you. For example, if you want to quit smoking because everyone is telling you to do so, you will not likely be successful. I will be the first person to encourage someone to quit smoking, but I also know that most people who quit successfully do so when they are ready. They also often quit cold turkey without any medication or nicotine supplements. Unfortunately it usually takes some type of health crisis to wake some people up; nonetheless, it has to come from within. You will not feel satisfaction in achieving a goal when it is meant to seek approval from others or to make others happy. If the other parties don’t react the way you want, then you will have spent all your time doing something for someone else and left with regrets and resentment. In the end you will not have done anything to make yourself happy.
Tune in for the rest of the related articles on ways we prevent ourselves from achieving our goals.
Share what your New Years Resolutions are in the comments below!