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New Year, New Year’s Resolutions?

As the new year dawned earlier this week, many of us used it as a time to reflect on 2018 and make resolutions for what we want to change in the coming year. Maybe we want to lose some holiday weight, get a better grip on our finances, improve ourselves by learning something new, or change our career/life path. Admittedly, all admirable aspirations (as demonstrated by the fact that these are a few of the most common resolutions…year after year). However, as the shininess of the new year starts to wear off and the doldrums of February start to set in, we lose motivation and nearly 80% of us that made resolutions will have given up, according to U.S. News and World Reports. Yep, 80% will have thrown in the towel by Valentine’s Day! Then why do we keep making New Year’s resolutions year after year and how can we be part of the 20% that makes it past the middle of February?

The connotation of the word resolution is negative to a lot of people, something to be solved or fix. Thus, how many of us are looking at our resolutions as a way of fixing something that we perceive is broken about us? Instead of highlighting the potential for growth and positive change we are starting out focusing on the negatives that we see in ourselves. Whereas the word goal has a much more positive connotation, it’s defined by Oxford’s dictionary as an aim or an object of person’s ambition or effort. A goal is something that we work towards, we aim to achieve unlike a resolution that is putting an end to a problem. Funny how our minds can differentiate subconsciously, and our reactions are influenced by the distinction. How can we make goals that we can stick with for longer than six weeks? Breaking them down into smaller, more manageable goals that allow us to feel successful. That’s right, setting yourself up for success can be key to achieving your goals. Let’s break down one of the more common resolutions of “being healthier”.

Not too General- the goal needs to be specific, “being healthier” is rather vague and ambiguous. State your intent in more specific terms, “I want to be healthier by eating more vegetables.”

Objective- the goal needs to be measurable and trackable. In our example, the word “more” can be construed as subjective. More as compared to what exactly? We can refine the goal further to make it easier to quantify and measure, “5 servings of vegetables a day”.

Achievable- remember we are setting ourselves up for success with our goals, we want to meet them, so we must make sure we are setting reasonable expectations. What if you hate vegetables and never eat them outside of french fries? Is our goal of 5 servings of vegetables a day attainable? Maybe, maybe not. You can refine the goal even further to make it more manageable, “Eat 1 serving of vegetables with lunch and 2 servings with dinner.” Remember if you feel successful you are more likely to be motivated to continue expanding and working toward higher goals.

Lifetime/Lifestyle- is the goal something that you can continue doing indefinitely? Maybe for the rest of your life? Lasting change is about creating new processes of how we think, feel, and react to stimuli so if we have a “diet” mindset then we are constantly looking forward to being done with the “diet”.

By breaking down goals into manageable pieces we are telling ourselves that we want to be successful and that we can do the things that we set our minds to. Start 2019 by setting a goal to ditch the resolutions of the past and succeed in achieving your goals for the future. Happy goal setting!

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Making New Year’s Resolutions Count

Most new years usually start the same. We are bright and hopeful as we set new goals for ourselves. However, if you are like me, the motivation and excitement for these resolutions that came with the new year seem to fade after the first week; and then as time goes by the resolutions you were so excited about become a burden.  So, how can we make our resolutions count this year? Here are some ideas on how to keep those resolutions at the top of your list, and make them last to the end of the year.

Wasatch Family Therapy1. Start small

When setting New Year’s resolutions, start small then get bigger as you feed off your success. For example, I heard something on the radio once about making changes.  Exercising is a great resolution, but it can feel pretty overwhelming if we start with, “I’m going to go to the gym for one hour everyday”.  Instead, one woman determined to do push-ups for just one minute every day—something she was sure she could commit to. She did, gained muscle, self confidence, and of course, once started couldn’t keep to one minute—she lost 7 pounds the first month.  When you feel better you do better and a good cycle begins. Starting small can be applied to any goal.

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