Sound advice on keeping resolutions

January 2, 2013

New Year's is here and it is time to make the new year’s resolution; everyone wants to know what your resolution is for the year. New year's resolution is a commitment that a person makes to one or more personal goals, projects or the reforming of a habit.

With making the resolution also comes the thought of failure, as it has happened to all of us a key element to a new year's resolution that sets it apart from other resolutions is that it is made in anticipation of the new year and new beginnings.

For some, the new year’s resolution is the same every year; a few have given up to make any, as they have failed many a times and think of it as a waste of time.

Some of the most common ones are:
• Lose weight
• Quit smoking
• Quit or curb alcohol use
• Getting organized - able to multitask
• Eating healthy and starting a exercise program
• Spend less money, save more - improve finances, get out of debt
• Learn a new hobby or something exciting
• Learn to enjoy life to the fullest
• Help others; help out in the community
• Spend more time with the family
• Find a partner
• Watch less television
• Be less grumpy

The nature of new year's resolutions has changed during the last decades, with many resolutions being more superficial and appearance-oriented than in previous times. More resolution revolves around the looks and body image, then toward the mind and improvement of the morals or internal character.
Whatever your resolutions are, it is known that many people will not be able to continue with that for even one week.

Studies have shown a drop off rate in the first week of up to 40 to 60 percent, depending on the resolutions. The final success rate is even poorer. A 2007 study by Richard Wisemen from the University of Bristol involving 3,000 people showed that 88 percent of those who set new year's resolutions fail, despite the fact that 52 percent of the study's participants were confident of success at the beginning.

The trick to make a new year’s resolution and be successful with it requires a good plan. Write down your plan - be as descriptive as possible; make sure your goals are not vague, as eat healthy, be fit, be healthy, etc. The plan has to have details: what do you plan to eat; how much and how often do you plan to exercise? If you plan to eat healthy, what is you process? Are you following calorie counting or low carb, or a balanced diet approach? Being specific in the plan and writing it down improves your chances for success.

Set checkpoints and small targets to help you track your progress - it is easier to lose one or two pounds a week or month than a 20-pound target. Achieving smaller targets also builds up the confidence and helps to move you further toward the goal.

Be realistic with yourselves. If you are not an early riser then do not plan to exercise every morning; you are setting yourself up for failure. Plan activities or task that you like to do and have options, so you can chose and avoid boredom.

Take one project at a time. I have seen people pick up to multiple task at the same time and then crash and fail. Take the most important one and slowly work at it. Once you have achieved that, you can built up on that success.

Be ready for failures and setback. It is not going to be smooth sailing always; there will be roadblocks and some falling back. Be ready for them and have a plan. Don’t be discouraged by failure, but learn from them and try not to make the same mistakes again.

Going public with the plan. This one is tricky; some people do great when others know about it and they achieve better results because now it is a challenge, while other gets embarrassed and will fail, if other know about the plan. So work this to your preference.

Have a support team. Planning a resolution, like diet, exercise, quitting smoking always works best with a team approach. If you have a partner or group, the rate of success is higher. You can gain support from others and they would be of great help when you are down or weak.

So set your goal and have a specific plan. Get your support team ready and stick to your plan, making changes that are needed as you go along. Don’t be afraid of small setbacks. Just keep at it and the new year’s resolution would be a success

Uday Jani MD FACP

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