The dawn of a new year brings with it a nice clean slate full of promise. With the bulk of the holidays now behind us I find myself feeling rejuvenated. Wrapping up another year means my enthusiasm to clean up my surroundings feeds into my psyche, creating yet another hopeful fantasy of what the new and improved me will look like in upcoming months. Along with the fresh start comes the ritual, if you participate, of a resolution.
As we all know, resolutions are opportunities for self-improvement. Traditionally made at the dawn of the new year, we resolve to better ourselves.
According to Health.com while about 75% of people stick to their goals for at least a week, less than half (46%) are still on target six months later. That being said let’s look at the top five New Year’s Resolutions, depending on the source the order will vary but the results are similar:
- Lose Weight
- Go back to school/change jobs
- Quit smoking
- Save money
- Reduce stress
If you want my two cents the reason we can’t stick to our goals is because we’re not making resolutions that are enjoyable enough to retain our commitment. Are we making resolutions that we think others want us to make rather than searching ourselves to ask, “What would make ME happy?”
I get it, we have a few extra pounds we’re feeling guilty about. Perhaps we became caught up the excitement of the season and spent way more than the budget allowed, and if you’re like me you probably polished off a few extra cocktails than you’d like to admit. Welcome to the holiday aftermath and the perpetual season of guilt. Come January 1st we’re all convinced we will lose the extra 10 pounds, detox the rum and eggnog, and start eating cat food to get the budget back on track.
To this I say bah humbug!
Studies have found that people with a happy, positive, and passionate outlook are less likely to have a heart attack. So how do we stay positive and keep a “glass half full” mentality when society is constantly reminding us that we need to improve ourselves?
What’s even more intimidating is that once you hit middle age you’re even less likely to commit to that elusive New Year’s resolution. According to statisicbrain.com only 39 percent of people in their 20s will achieve their resolutions each year and once you’re over 50 the odds drop to a mere 14 percent.
So, what’s the answer you ask? Well I think it’s pretty simple really, start setting goals you’ll be jumping out of bed each morning to fulfill. For example, head to a local shelter and adopt your new best friend. You win two-fold, rescuing a life and spending time with a furry companion is proven to reduce stress and increase longevity. If you decide to adopt a pooch you’ll be more likely to walk on a daily basis which will help chip away at those pesky pounds and reduce your risk of heart attack. That’s a win-win-win! You can thank me later.
If you haven’t already made a resolution it’s not too late either, here’s your chance to make a lasting commitment to your health and happiness:
First, focus on the positive rather than fixating on the negative.
Instead of telling yourself you need to lose weight try committing to a new hobby you’ve always wanted to learn like horseback riding lessons or skiing programs. I’m ashamed to admit that I can’t skate. I didn’t come from a family that could afford lessons to suit my every desire. A Canadian who can’t skate is an embarrassment at the highest level. This would be a great time to make a resolution to learn, since it would mean that I could participate in a celebrated family pastime and stay active at the same time.
Be specific, book the time into your schedule and make it part of your routine
No one ever ran a marathon without training first. Not putting in the time to achieve your goals is a sure-fire way of ensuring you won’t commit. If you’ve decided you want to commit to being a nicer person then also find ways to purge the negativity that will eventually find you. Take up meditation or a high intensity sport to burn off the negative energy. Again you’ll find yourself improving on many levels.
Plan ahead to make permanent changes
Right now, before you even have time to make an excuse go ahead make a plan. Find ways to counter the excuses you will inevitably make. If creating a budget and saving money is your goal get a referral to a reliable financial advisor. If travel is something you really want to do, start asking friends and family what places they recommend. Book something in the next year and plan to put away a feasible amount of money each week or month to ensure you won’t have any last minute surprises.
If the thoughts of running a marathon send you flailing in the other direction the answer is simple, don’t. Stop making assumptions that once you say the words the inspiration will follow. In all honesty I’ve never had the determination to learn to skate. The thoughts of being lapped by my 5 year old or better yet hunched over a support device avoiding eye contact from snickering neighbours gives me heart palpitations. So I solemnly vow to say no to pressure inducing resolutions.
I recently read about a news broadcaster who suffered from a terrifying anxiety attach while reporting live. This inspired him to take up meditation. I don’t know about you but I could benefit from learning to breathe in overwhelming situations and I would love to find more quiet time. So what is my 2016 New Year’s resolution?
To that I say Om.
Still need help with your resolutions? There’s an app for that!
- Looking to save money and stick to a budget? Try Mint. From money and budgeting to customized tips and more—get a clear view of your total financial life.
- Wonderful Day To help you stick to your goals and Stay Motivated. Every Single Day.
- Sattva World’s first advanced meditation timer and tracker. Challenges, trophies and guided meditations to inspire you to meditate everyday!
- Looking to learn a new language? From Spanish, French to German or Portuguese there’s Duolingo
- And for those of you you who really want to commit to that New Year fitness goal there’s My Fitness Pal which will track everything from your exercise and calories to your eating habits.
Whether you use an app, use my tips, or use both to stick to your new year’s resolution, sticking with it is the key. Will you be in the 46% six months from now? Let me know what your resolution is in the comments below and check back in 6 months to see if you’ve stuck with it. I’ll let you know if I’ve stuck with mine. Om…