It's hard not to get the resolution urge on New Year's Eve. It's that
time of year again when we resolve to get off our lazy duffs and run
around the block more often, maybe even cut back on consumption of all
those things we know we aren't supposed to eat. Or drink. Or smoke.
There's that sense of renewal, of rebirth, and the guilty awareness that
you ate your own weight in chocolate during the holidays. Sure, last
year's resolutions didn't make it past the fifth of January, but hey,
this year's going to be different, right?
New Year's Resolutions
or New Year's Dissolutions, if you are one of the backsliders who breaks
the first rule on your annual list before breakfast on New Year's Day,
you won't find a lot of comfort in a new study by psychologists at the
University of Washington. In a survey conducted chiefly over the
Internet, the researchers found that most people—unlike YOU—keep the
promise they put at the top of their list, at least for awhile. 63
percent of the 264 persons they questioned remained faithful to their
No. 1 resolution in 1997 for at least two months.
Most of us don't have a clue how to make a reasonable resolution, which
is why most of us fail to keep the ones we make. We set high goals for
ourselves, and then wonder why we never attain them. So we either stop
setting goals (never a good choice), or make resolutions that are
ridiculously easy to keep. I asked a friend what his New Year's
resolution was last year. He thought very seriously and then replied
"Breathing." An admirable goal, but hopefully not one he'll
have to struggle to keep!
While admitting that
little is known about human behavior modification, the researchers came
up with some interesting conclusions. People who thought about their
resolutions for some time were more successful than those who came up
with them at the last minute. Like after the New Year’s Eve party.
The study also
suggested that people can be reasonably confident about embarking on a
new healthy behavior, like getting more exercise. But breaking a bad
habit may be far more difficult.
Key to Success
Determined that this
year you'll keep those New Year's Resolutions? Here are a few goal
setting tips to get you started!
Don't Try Everything at Once! There's a temptation, with the New
Year, to run off a list of everything we've ever wanted to change. Don't
fall for it! You'll have better luck fulfilling one or two goals than
you will with a list of fifty.You can always add new resolutions to your
list later. Take one thing at a time.
Word it Carefully. Let's say your resolution is to relax more in
the coming year. Word this carefully. Try not to think of it as
"This year I am going to relax." That's a stress-inducer
waiting to happen. It forces you into thinking of the resolution as
something you must do, not something you want to do. Try to make it
sound a little gentler: "This year I'm going to explore different
ways of relaxing." It also suggests more of a plan—you'll fulfill
the resolution by experimenting with relaxation techniques. The first
resolution sounds as if you're going to force yourself to relax by sheer
Make a Plan. Once you know what your resolution is, try to break
it down. Nobody accomplishes anything of significance by trying to do it
all at once. This doesn't have to be a complicated plan; just brainstorm
enough to give you a place to start.
For relaxing, you might devise
a plan like this:
1) Surf the Internet to find different relaxation techniques.
2) Make a list of all the techniques that interest you.
3) Pick one of these techniques—meditation, progressive relaxation or
self-hypnosis, for instance—and try one for a month.
4) Try a different technique every month until you find one you like.
Write it Down. Write down your resolution and your plan of action. Stick
it up on the fridge, in your locker, wherever you know you'll see it. That way
you'll have a constant reminder of the resolution. You may want to change the
wording as time passes and your goal changes.