by Kimberly Allen, RN
It’s that time of year again. In the midst of planninf for Christmas we also come to the realization the year is coming to an end. Along with this realization many people look back on the previous year at what they have or have not accomplished and think ahead about the future and what they hope to accomplish. Many look at the future and decide to make a commitment to do something by making a “New Years Resolution.”
People have been making New Years resolutions since ancient times when the Babylonians made promises to their gods at the beginning of every year. Research indicates that 45% of Americans make New Years resolutions regularly, however, of that 45% only 8% are successful in achieving their goal.
Many people make New Years resolutions regarding their health. They vow to eat better, exercise more, lose weight etc. However, if you set goals that sound good and make you feel better rather than goals that are attainable your chances of success are not good. For example if you decide you need to start exercising setting a goal of running 5 miles a day is more unrealistic than commiting to walk for 20 minutes everyday. It’s much easier to keep your commitment and achieve your goal when your goal is realistic and attainable.
Another key to success is to not wait until New Years Eve to make your resolution. Plan ahead, know what you want to commit to in advance and have a plan. Planning ahead can help you figure out how you’re going to deal with temptation. there are bound to be days when you’re tired and don’t feel like taking that walk. How are you going to overcome the temptation to skip that walk? There are several ways to approach temptation. Have a walk buddy to encourage you, practice positive thinking, remind yourself why you are doing it.
Keeping a written list of the pro’s and con’s with you that you can look at for motivation and encouragement is a good way to stick to your resolution. I know some people that make New Years resolutions but refuse to tell anyone what they are because they don’t want anyone to know if/when they fail. That’s the wrong way to think about it, in some ways you’re planning your failure. Tell everyone, your family, friends and coworkers they can be a great support and encourage you when you need it and celebrate with you when you achieve your goal.
Don’t be afraid to reward yourself now and then. That doesn’t mean if you’re tired you shouldn’t still take that walk but you could get a new pair of shoes or go out to dinner. Don’t let your reward interfere with your resolution. It’s important to keep track of how you are progressing. It’s much easier to set short term goals on the way to a long term goal. Maybe you want to run a marathon someday. Instead of concentrating on the marathon concentrate on running that first mile, then when you are able to run a mile without difficulty look at 2 miles etc. It’s also important to understand everyone has a bad day, don’t get down and beat yourself up if you slip up, keep at it. Don’t give up. Experts estimate it takes at least 21 days for a new activity to become a habit and about 6 months for it to become a part of you and your daily life.
Kimberly Allen is a registered nurse with an AND in nursing. She has worked in ACF, LCF and psychiatric facilities, although she spent most of her career as a home health expert. She is now a regular contributor to HealthAndFitnessTalk.com, dispensing advice and knowledge about medical issues and questions. You can reach her with any comments or questions at firstname.lastname@example.org.