New Year’s Resolutions a Year-Long Process

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Every January, people celebrate New Year’s Eve and Day with friends and family. The culmination of the celebration for many usually ends with the making of New Year’s resolutions.

The common resolutions each year usually include losing weight; getting fit; learning something new; eating healthier; dieting; getting out of debt and saving money; spending more time with family and friends; traveling to new places; being less stressed; volunteering; and drinking less.

When you examine the above stated resolutions they seem to be reasonable goals. Then why, according to U.S. News & World Report, do 80% of resolutions fail by February? What goes wrong in the process? Some possible reasons: Behavioral change is an ongoing process that involves learning, modifications and changes.

January is a hard time to make changes for many reasons. You have just finished a stressful time of the year. You may feel down since the holiday season is over, and you feel that there isn’t anything to look forward to. You may be tired from traveling from visiting family and friends. You may be experiencing stress and anxiety from spending time with friends and family. You may feel disappointed that the holiday didn’t meet your expectations.

At the same time, many people experience seasonal affective disorder, or SAD, which contributes to sad mood, low energy, irritability, lethargy, difficulty concentrating, withdrawal from social situations and an increased craving of carbohydrates.

Additionally, many people’s goals aren’t clear. It is important to examine where your goals come from. Ask yourself why the resolution is important to you. Some challenges with keeping resolutions include the following: You may feel overwhelmed.

You may not know where to begin. You may feel pressured to see progress. The pressure may come from your environment, culture, loved ones or yourself. These feelings and factors may cause you to quit before you make progress with your resolution.

You may feel discouraged since you may become impatient in the process of working on your resolutions. This impatience may come from not seeing progress as quickly as you hoped. You may be questioning if your resolution is achievable.

You may not be ready to change. Change can be an overwhelming process. You may make excuses so that you can return to your old behaviors.

The many reasons, difficulties and obstacles discussed above point to the conclusion that setting New Year’s resolutions should be an ongoing process. Why not take a new approach this year?

Set your New Year’s resolutions throughout the year. You may choose to do them monthly, quarterly or weekly. At the same time, you may want to follow the typical approach of setting your resolutions at the beginning of the year, but don’t get discouraged if you don’t meet your goal.

New Year’s resolutions may need to be restarted, reset or rewritten. It is also OK if you only achieve part of your resolution since change occurs in small steps. Don’t give up.

Change is an ongoing process. Remember, if you take a new approach then you will have a greater chance of achieving your goal.

Marcy Shoemaker is a staff psychologist at Abramson Center.

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