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  • Writer's pictureDrDavanaPilczuk

A New Way to Make Resolutions

If you’re anything like me, this is a time of mixed emotions: excitement to make needed changes along with the nagging reminder that we didn’t meet last year’s resolutions, so why try again? Before embarking on yet another year of disappointment, let’s learn where we went wrong last year and make some corrections so this year leads to success.

There are three main reasons why our goals aren’t met: the goal was too lofty, the goal wasn’t clear enough, or we really didn’t look forward to the work that was necessary to get to the goal. Let’s break these missed resolutions down, so we can learn from our mistakes. Using the most common resolution, weight loss, as an example, we can see where we went wrong.

Mistake of lofty goals

Our motivation, hope and excitement often get the best of us and prevents us from laying out a realistic goal. We say “I’m going to lose 20 pounds!” but we don’t plan out what the “losing” looks like.

Weight loss includes diet changes, increases in activity level, time, a support system, money, better sleep, reduced stress levels and planning for setbacks. Wow! That’s a lot to consider for one little goal. But to be successful, we need to consider all of these things.

Sometimes the time isn’t right for a lofty goal. If you’re going through a difficult time, lack the support system to help you when things get hard or don’t have the time to squeeze in an hour a day to work out, then reduce your lofty goal to something more doable.

Confusion from unclear goals

The brain performs better when we have a clear, well thought-out plan. The phrase “having a one-track mind” has some truth behind it. Our brains do better when we can focus on one thing at a time, and we also perform better when the goal of our efforts is crystal clear.

Saying, “I want to lose weight this year,” although a great goal, is rather vague. By tweaking the statement just a little, we can wrap our heads around what’s expected of us for the whole year. “I’m going to lose half a pound a week, for 50 weeks” now makes the goal much more clear. The weekly expectation is understood and breaking the goal into weeks feels much more doable.

Always build in vacation time and setback time when it comes to weight loss goals. You WILL gain weight or plateau, so plan for that and don’t beat yourself up when it happens. Make goals doable and when things feel doable, we tend to do them!

Dreading your goal

At times, we have all made a dreadful goal that we knew we needed, but hated the thought of having to work toward it. If the thought of joining a gym to lose weight or eating kale with every meal makes you gag, then don’t make those things a part of your goal.

Here’s a little secret: if you hate your goal, it’s highly likely that you won’t achieve it! A resolution goal should be one you look forward to and are happy to attempt because its value holds such importance to you. So if weight loss or health is your goal of choice, here’s how you make it fun: every month, pick one thing to focus on. Just one.

Get a cheap calendar (the Dollar Store or Family Dollar have wall calendars for, uh, a dollar) and each month write that month’s goal across the top. January: stop drinking soda. February: go for a 30-minute walk three days a week. March: eat one piece of fruit each day. Get the point? Focus mostly on adding in good mini-goals (eat more fruit) versus deprivation goals (cut out soda), and make those monthly goals things you look forward to.

Remember, the point of a resolution is to help you improve your life, not make you feel bad about it. A new year is a time of awareness and self-reflection. Use it as a time to enhance your life, to put past mistakes behind you and to look forward to things that will make you happy.

Life is short. Don’t beat yourself up so much. If you tried and it didn’t work, then try something different. But the goal is, always, just keep trying until you find the “thing” that works. December 31, 2017

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