New Year Resolutions

It is the new year and often times we make resolutions we think will improve our lives.  But only a fraction of people actually achieve the goals they set.  Why do these goals seem out of reach?  I believe it is rooted in the timeless adage, “Old Habits Die Hard.”

It’s true. We are creatures of habit and like it or not, we continue certain behaviors because that’s what we have always done and probably what we were taught to do by our parents, regardless of whether or not the actions are good for us.

A second reason might be that we try the “cold-turkey” approach.  For some people, the cold turkey approach might work, but for the vast majority of us, we need to ease into it.  Taking smaller steps to achieve a longer-term goal can be helpful.  The cold-turkey approach to change sets us up for disappointment and failure because once we’ve broken the resolution, often we will simply throw up our hands and say, “Well, I didn’t make it.  The contest is over and I lost.”  If we re-evaluate and take a long-term approach to changing habits, our success rate would probably increase.  If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.

A third reason we fail is that most of us make resolutions to take something away from our lives.  If we are looking at long term goals, it’s much easier, in the beginning, to add a small habit rather than subtracting a big one, especially when it comes to food.  For instance, if our goal is to lose weight, often we immediately try to change all of the foods we like to eat in one swoop.  We vow to eat salad every day for dinner and cut our portions in half for every meal.  Within 4 days we are starving and fall off the wagon with all kinds of foods we said we were not going to eat.  It might be a better goal to simply to add a salad to our diets 4 times a week, without changing anything else.  Eat dinner, but eat your salad first.  The second step might be to subtract the desserts.  The third step might be to stay away from the junk food isle at the grocery store and vow never to bring home any pre-packaged snack foods.

Baby steps can be used for any goal.  It’s just a matter of patience.  Keeping the end goal in mind and continually working toward it is a rewarding process.  It doesn’t matter when you achieve the New Year resolution.  Working toward it continually is a sure sign that you will find success.


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