Well, it’s ten days into the new year and I thought it might be a good time to check in to see where you’re at with those New Year’s resolutions. Are you a resolution maker? If so, what type of resolution person are you? Are you someone that will sit down in anticipation of the new year and with much thought and consideration carefully journal your specific goals for the year to come, or are you a heat of the moment resolution maker that throws caution to the wind at the stroke of midnight and blurts out a tirade of grandiose lifestyle changes, only to see your dreams go up in smoke in a few days?
I was a bit curious to find out the truth about the hard reality of resolution making, and so I did a bit of research to see how many of us really stick to it and make real changes that last beyond the first days and months of a new year. It turns out that about 51% of Canadians and 40 to 45% of American adults make resolutions each year. How many of us actually follow through? Sadly for those of us in the Great White North, only 52% of us make it past the first month. In the US, 75% make it past the first week, 64% last a month and by the end of the year 88% of Americans have given up on their resolutions… so a mere 12% will be successful.
What are the most popular resolutions you might ask? I would bet that most of us can guess at more than a few at the top of the list. According to this awesome radian6 infographic, which looks at social media conversations just before and after January 1st, 24% of people want to exercise more, 23% of us would like to lose weight, 20% would like to try new things, 9% want to save more money and 7% will try to stop smoking. Any of these sound familiar? Are some/all of them on your New Year’s resolution shortlist?
With your list of resolutions looming ahead like a huge mountain that is too much to climb, why bother making resolutions at all you might wonder? Before you throw in the proverbial towel on your resolutions for 2012, there are ways to help increase your chances of being one of the 12% that sticks it out to the end of the year and is successful with living up to those resolutions.
When most of us think about our resolutions, we throw out a blanket statement without any thought of how we will measure the success/failure of that resolution. Let’s take a popular one as an example. If I say “I want to lose weight”, it comes without a specific goal and time frame – if I say “I want to lose 10 lbs by bathing suit season” I have a goal that is specific and therefore more tangible. Adding a time frame to your goal helps set the wheels of change in motion, and makes it much more likely that you will stick with your resolution and see it through.
Break your goal down into measurable, manageable pieces
When you set a larger goal, sometimes the size and magnitude of the task can be overwhelming and may cause you to give up before you even start. For example, one of my goals for this year is to de-clutter and organize my home. It is a task that I have been procrastinating on for quite some time, mostly because the job seems too big to achieve in a manageable time-frame – and so I don’t want to start. For this year, I have decided to approach the task in a way that I can manage. I plan to tackle one room in the house per month. One room, de-cluttered, cleaned and organized in 30 days seems doable, and so I think that over the course of the year I may finally achieve my goal. I’ll let you know….
When we set the bar too high, we set ourselves up for failure before we even start. If your resolution is to go to the gym every day in the new year when you’ve only been managing once every few weeks previously, you are most likely going to fail within a short period of time. A more realistic goal might be to hit the gym a few times a week, and then add walks on your lunch hour or take the stairs in the office rather than the elevator, etc. to add extra exercise to your day in manageable amounts. Taking it slow and working towards your goal in a realistic way will help ensure your success in the days ahead.
Reward success, move on from failure
When you look at the statistics that I quoted above, it seems more likely than not that you will not make it to December 31, 2012 with your resolutions intact. One of the keys to keeping your resolutions alive is to celebrate your successes along the way, and keep moving forward even if you fall off the wagon occasionally. If your resolution is to save more money this year and you just can’t walk by that designer purse in a moment of weakness, enjoy the splurge and then move forward towards your goal tomorrow. And remember, “success is a journey not a destination” – Ben Sweetland; take the time to savour every moment.
In my research about New Year’s resolutions, I came across something that I just had to share with you. The following are the resolutions written by the author Virginia Woolf in 1931 (via bloggingwoolf.wordpress.com).
January 2, 1931:
Here are my resolutions for the next 3 months; the next lap of the year.
To have none. Not to be tied.
To be free & kindly with myself, not goading it to parties: to sit rather privately reading in the studio.
To make a good job of The Waves.
To stop irritation by the assurance that nothing is worth irritation [referring to Nelly].
Sometimes to read, sometimes not to read.
To go out yes—but stay at home in spite of being asked.
As for clothes, to buy good ones.
It is amazing to me that the resolutions of someone living eighty years ago are not far from what I might write for myself in this coming year. To be kind to myself, to take the time to do what I love to do, to accept social engagements with people that I want to see, but to feel free to decline as well if it is the best thing for me and my family, and to treat myself once in awhile with something nice. Sounds like a great start to 2012, with only blue skies ahead!
Sources for statistics:
All photos by Anita Woo.