New Year’s resolutions often focus on actions that will improve your lifestyle such as weight loss, more exercise and improved relationships. These resolutions are positive and make us healthier both physically and mentally, so why are the majority of them broken before the middle of January?
“New Year’s resolutions are made with the best intentions and are often broken unconsciously,” says Tom Wellings, Clinical Social Worker with Fredericton’s Addictions and Mental Health Services. He says a number of factors influences why they are broken and include resolutions that are vague, unrealistic, and made without a plan.
He suggests one or two specific realistic resolutions be made with a written action plan.
A sample action plan for more exercise could include the determination of:
1. A form of exercise that you enjoy such as cross-country skiing.
2. The location and any equipment and fees required.
3. The time and duration of the activity.
4. A support system such as a co-worker who will meet you after work and join you for the activity.
It is also important that the resolution be integrated into a daily routine as it will become part of a lifestyle. On average it takes a person 21 days to form a habit and six months for it to become an automatic behaviour.
“To be accountable, ask family and friends to motivate you and support your intention to improve yourself. Even better, find someone who shares your resolution and provide motivation for one another.”
Wellings says that it is important to reward yourself for successes achieved. “To change yourself for the better is hard work. Set short-term goals and celebrate your successes with something you enjoy. It is most important to remain positive and not to be hard on yourself over the occasional slip. Take a day at a time and do the best you can. A positive attitude can mean the difference between success and failure.”