What’s the secret to making a New Year’s Resolution that will actually stick?
Regardless of how you felt about the year 2016, we can all agree that it is coming to a close and 2017 is the mark of a new year! This is the time when gym memberships spike and diet regimens begin – but how often do these “New Year’s Resolutions” typically last? Some studies have shown over 80% of New Year’s Resolutions fail, but why is that?
Too often, we put a lot of pressure on the beginning of a new year in hopes that it will be better than the last and we can rid ourselves of bad habits. The truth is, bad habits are hard to break! The turning of a clock doesn’t suddenly make the process easier – especially when we set unrealistic expectations for ourselves. Does that mean we shouldn’t try? Of course not! We should always be trying to better ourselves, but we need to consider the reasons behind those changes and the methods to arrive before jumping in!
Many people think of New Year’s Resolutions and immediately jump to, “what do I need to fix about myself?” Often, weight is one of the first things people want to change, leading them to joining a gym or subscribing to a diet regimen that is just unrealistic. Instead, we should be asking ourselves, “What do I already love about myself?” As a society, most people rarely consider this question. We are fixated on fixing rather than appreciating, but if we begin to appreciate what we can already do and what we already offer, only then can we begin to see what more we can ask of ourselves.
It can be simple: if I love how well I take care of my dog, I may then begin to wonder what else I can do to be an even better dog owner. I may make a resolution to play with her more, take her for more walks, or get her to her vet appointments on time rather than getting behind a month or two. I also may realize that I already do all of those things, and instead I decide to make a resolution to volunteer at my local animal shelter once a month. Rather than looking at the things I’m doing wrong, I can look at what I do well and begin to expand on those. The key is to make the resolution manageable, something that will better you and others, and something that you can learn to enjoy if you don’t already. Just because you start simple, doesn’t mean that it isn’t significant!
This is not to say that joining a gym or changing your diet habits are bad resolutions, rather the thought process that leads up to those resolutions is what is more important. You must first realize what you are doing right and why you deserve to be doing better. Instead of thinking that you should lose weight, the focus should be on getting healthier so you can run that half marathon or hike that trail that you’ve always wished you could. Start with a small goal that you’re confident that you can achieve – it’s better to accomplish it more easily than you initially thought, than to give up because you bit off more than you could chew.
My whole life I was a sprinter – I did short, fast races which made a single mile feel like a long distance run. When I realized that people run one mile as a warm-up and that felt like an entire work out to me, I decided I wanted to get better. My first short-term goal was to run a mile without stopping, and my first long-term goal was to run a 5K (roughly 3 miles) without stopping. I used Couch-to-5K to progressively accomplish both of those goals. It felt great!
Next thing I knew, I was trying to add another mile. And another. And another. Somewhere along the way, someone convinced me to sign up for a half marathon. It seemed impossible, and I was shocked when I not only finished, but ran the entire race without stopping. The point is this: if I had set my first long-term goal to be a half marathon, I can guarantee that I would have become discouraged and given up. I literally took it one step at a time, one mile at a time. It worked because my motivation was to be healthier and stronger, and I accomplished that goal every time I ran!
Now, running might not be your thing – it certainly wasn’t mine for most of my life! But the process of making a goal or resolution is the same regardless of what the end result is. Starting with a short-term, attainable goal that you can add to later is much more realistic. If you can find someone who has the same goal and same motivation, use each other to stay accountable! Check in and ask each other how volunteering at the animal shelter went, and just knowing that someone will notice if you didn’t go can be enough motivation to not give up when life gets hectic.
If you are still struggling to think of a realistic and positive resolution, consider the year 2016. What are the aspects that you really enjoyed, and what are aspects that you wish had gone differently? Which of those aspects did you have control over? Sometimes we feel that problems in our society are too big for us to make an impact, but that’s not always the case. If you are unhappy with how certain politics may affect groups of people, or have been empathetic to local, national, or global tragedies – you can make a resolution to get more involved with related groups. Volunteer or hold a fundraiser to support those groups, but consider why they are important to you and have your resolution reflect those reasons!
If you would like more information on the LGBTQ+ community, how to be a better ally, resources, or a more in depth training for your business, agency, or staff, or if you’re LGBT and looking for resources, please contact the Cortland LGBTQ Center: 607-756-8970 x261; email@example.com; www.cortlandlgbtcenter.org; or stop in and visit us at 73 Main Street in downtown Cortland!
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