It’s that time of year again. We are busy finishing up our Christmas shopping and planning our celebrations while looking forward to the New Year. Some of us may even be contemplating our New Year’s resolution. As we start to think about ringing in 2020, let’s take a look at the history of New Year’s Resolutions and how we can make a resolution that will stick.
In history, the Babylonians were the first people to make something similar to a New Year’s resolution some 4,000 years ago. They celebrated the New Year and made promises to their gods to repay their debts. They believed that if they kept their word to repay their debts and return what they had borrowed, the gods would bestow favor on them, and if not, they would fall out of favor.
I think it’s safe to say we are all fortunate that keeping our New Year’s resolution isn’t a factor in our favor and luck for the year ahead. Some studies show that up to 88% of us fail to achieve our resolutions. The most common resolutions tend to be losing weight, exercising more, quitting smoking, and saving money. These are all good resolutions because they can help improve our health and our life. So how do we make a goal that we can stick with?
The American Psychological Association recommends starting small and changing one behavior at a time. We can do this with SMART goals. SMART goals are goals that are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time bound. SMART goals can help provide the focus and motivation needed to achieve it.
Instead of “I want to lose 50 pounds, eat better, and exercise more,” the goal can be “I will exercise 3 times per week to help lose 10 pounds by March.” The purpose of the goal is to ultimately create a new, healthy habit, but not overwhelm yourself and set yourself up for failure. Then, when you meet the 10-pound goal and are exercising more, you can set a new one such as “I will lose 10 more pounds by May and eat sweets no more than twice per week.” By making goals this way, it is easier to track progress and you are not making an unrealistic and overwhelming goal for yourself.
The other important thing to remember is to be patient with yourself. To actually change something about ourselves we have to change our habits and behavior. If we give ourselves some leniency and grace, we’re more likely to continue, even if we’ve made a mistake, than to give up on the entire resolution or goal.
Whatever your resolution is this year, I hope you can make small, achievable goals to make 2020 a great year. For those of you interested in joining the Hegg Wellness Center as part of your resolution, the first week of January (Jan 2-8) is a free week. We welcome you to come check out the wellness center and group fitness classes for free!