It is now February, and many New Year’s resolutions may already be forgotten. In fact, researchers find that although 45 percent of Americans make resolutions each year, only 8 percent succeed by the end of the year.
So why does this happen? Is it because we put so much pressure on ourselves? During the last weeks of December into early January, how often do you hear, “What’s your New Year’s resolution?” and “What are you going to work on this year?”
The main focus seems to be on the “what” instead of the “how.” It is important to ask specifics such as, “How will I accomplish my goal?” or “What would I like to do differently?” You have to be the one to take the initiative to decide your personal goals (not goals other people set for you.) Revisit your health goals to assess your progress, adjust your goals if needed or decide on new goals. When you review your goals, ask the following questions:
• Is my goal too big? A goal that is too big can be overwhelming. Break it down into smaller goals. By working on one smaller goal at a time, you will see progress and success as you work toward your overall goal.
• Is this the right goal for me right now? If you have too much going on in your life, set aside your goal or adjust it to fit a little better in your life right now. You can always go back to this goal later.
According to Gabriele Oettingen, professor of psychology at New York University and author of "Rethinking Positive Thinking: Inside the New Science of Motivation," another important question to ask is, “What is it in me that’s holding me back?”
To explore this concept, Oettingen uses a technique she calls “WOOP” (wish, outcome, obstacle, plan). First, identify what is wished for, then visualize or imagine what the best outcome of this wish looks like. Third, identify any obstacles to this wish by asking, “What is it in me that’s holding me back?” Then create a plan for dealing with obstacles that arise in the attempt to make changes.
Once you reach your goal, no matter how small, celebrate. You owe it to yourself.
Reviewing your goals from time to time can help you stay on track and keep them fresh. Keep an eye on your progress. Celebrate each success. And set new goals when you’re ready. Fresh goals are your key to a healthier, happier you.
Leslie Kaldor is a licensed practical nurse and employee health care coordinator at Providence St. Patrick Hospital.