New Year’s resolutions: How to stick to them, how to set up a game plan, and even a few you may want to consider making

Research-reporting service Newswise has compiled an extensive New Year’s resolutions package, information particularly helpful to newsrooms in search of copy during the week between Christmas and New Year’s. Use these items for tips and information that can encourage your readers to live healthier lives. (Illustration by Tara Kaprowy, Kentucky Health News)

Resolutions need a course of action

If you want to achieve your New Year’s resolution goals, you need to be detailed about it, said Joshua Klapow, a clinical psychologist at University of Alabama at Birmingham.

If the goal is to lose weight, “You have to outline the days and times you will go to the gym, the menu adjustments you will make and who in your circle can help keep you accountable for these goals,” Klapow says. He advises a “gut-check,” asking yourself if you really want to commit to the resolution in the first place. “It’s better to be honest than to fail.”.

Other tips for success include:

• Be realistic about the goal; shoot for success instead of the stars

• Set short-term and long-term goals
• Be open to making adjustments to your resolutions.

Monitoring progress is also important. “Simply keeping a mental track will not cut it,” Klapow said. “If you are dieting, write down the foods you eat. If you want to spend less, write down your expenses. This will give you a visual account of what is working and what is not.”

An actual record will also establish the “three-day rule,” which involves writing down the reasons you stopped if you’ve missed three days committing to your new habit or routine. It also involves picking a specific re-start date and putting the written record somewhere that can be seen.

It’s also important to recognize limitations. “You have to arrange your life for success,” Klapow said. “Buying junk food for your family while you are trying to diet is not going to help. If you want to save money, stop carrying credit cards. Control what you can control to make your goals more easily achievable.” (Read more)

Use Monday to make resolutions stick

Almost 45 percent of Americans will make a New Year’s resolution this year, but studies show many will fall off the wagon within the first week and almost half will break their resolutions within the year.

One trick to stay on track? “Make Monday the day to recommit to your resolution, evaluate progress and set your goals for the coming week,” says research-reporting service Newswise.

“We think of Monday as the January of the week,” said Sid Lerner, founder and chairman of The Monday Campaigns, a nonprofit initiative in association with Johns Hopkins, Columbia and Syracuse universities. “It’s a call to action built into every calendar, giving you 52 chances for success.” (Read more)

Secret to resolution success is to make attainable goals

“I think most people make resolutions that they don’t achieve for many reasons, often because they seem so overwhelming,” said William McCann, director of behavioral science education in Wake Forest Baptist’s Medical Center. “So, from a psychological perspective, we should make resolutions that we are sure to be able to follow through on. While it seems counter intuitive, we should lower our expectations because we want to be able to say to ourselves by next Dec. 31st ‘I did it.'”

McCann offers a sample list of resolutions:

• “I will eat a little less dried food this year.”
• “I will drive a little more slowly this year.”
• “I will help others a little more this year.”
• “I will interfere in my children’s lives a little less this year.”
• “I will talk less and listen a little more.”

“Doing a little bit is like a seed that might grow,” McCann said. “Start little and see what happens in 2012.” (Read more)

Resolution Solution: How to meet your goals

A recent study shows committing to a detailed plan to meet one’s goal “not only makes it more likely to be done, but also gets it off your mind so you can think about other things.” So says E.J. Masicampo, assistant professor at Wake Forest University. “The (plans) that work specify exactly what you are going to do, including when and where you are going to do it.”

There are four elements to a good plan:

• It should specify what is the goal and in what situations it should be accomplished.
• The planner should know he or she is in control and the plan is not dependent on what someone else does.
• It should list specific opportunities to meet the goal.
• It should be a goal the planner is motivated to meet.

“You have to picture yourself carrying out your plan,” Masicampo said. “That’s where the power of the plans lie, in imagining yourself completing the tasks.”

For people trying to lose weight, for example, Masicampo said people should make “if, then” plans. “An ‘if, then’ plan pre-decides how you will act in a given situation,” he said. If a person goes to a restaurant, then they should plan to order a salad rather than cheeseburger. “Making a plan is like setting an alarm because you don’t have to think about it under the alarm sounds and then you’ll act.” (Read more)

Ten resolutions to consider

The University of Buffalo offers its annual list of resolutions worth committing to, each of which is based on the research of its faculty:

1. Make returning war veterans feel at home.
2. Floss every day.
3. To lose weight, eat the same foods over and over. Repetition may discourage overeating.
4. Be a humble leader.
5. Talk to your child about bullying.
6. Combat loneliness by reading more fantasy novels.
7. Reflect on things that give life meaning.
8. Set up separate email accounts to avoid getting scammed.
9. Teach math to your toddler.
10. Be nice to nurses.
(Read more)
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