Don’t keep resolutions to yourself

December 27, 2005 — Leave a comment

Salt Lake Tribune

Do New Year’s resolutions set us up for failure?

‘Twas the night before New Year’s, when all through my mind, what goals did I promise? My list I can’t find!

Here we are approaching yet another New Year’s Eve. Along with that midnight smooch, if you can force yourself to stay awake that long, we will ring in another new year of hopeful change. How’d you do with last year’s resolutions?

Since 153 B.C., Jan. 1 has been recognized as a time of rejuvenation and abolishment of the past. It’s how the phrase “turning over a new leaf” came to be. No matter what part of the world you live, similar resolutions are endorsed. The granddaddies of them all? Weighing less, exercising more and becoming debt/smoke-free.

Many people have trouble sticking to their resolutions, and there is a perfectly good “scientific” explanation for this. Columnist Dave Barry once reminded us of “a team of psychologists [who] conducted a study in which they monitored the New Year’s resolutions of 275 people. After one week, the psychologists found that 92 percent of the people were keeping their resolutions. After that, we have no idea what happened, because the psychologists quit monitoring.”

Make a New Year’s resolution that you have a real, bona-fide intention of keeping. The truth is most people don’t make a genuine, serious, no-kidding-around-I-really-do-mean-it-this-time New Year’s resolution. Without commitment, you can say, “Adios achievement. So long success. Come on in, disappointment.” The key to successful resolutions is to pick one . . . and only one. Divide and conquer all the things that need to be accomplished in order to achieve your main goal. Break it into small stepping stones, and that will become the path to your final destination.

Research indicates that those who are successful at making changes have an excellent support system. Increase your accountability by stating your resolution to your spouse or friend. There’s something powerful about having to answer to another person. The person in the mirror, on the other hand, will let you get away with murder. Don’t keep your resolution to yourself; it’s not safe with only you!

Persistence pays off. Remember, there is a huge difference between a slip and a slide. If you fall behind schedule or get sidetracked, refocus your goal, don’t retire it. Tenacity pays off.

Discipline is the greatest gift we can give ourselves. Discipline doesn’t ask you if you feel like doing something. It isn’t the slightest bit interested in your excuses. It cares only about your success. Don’t let your temper-tantrum of “nobody’s gonna tell me what to do” get in your way.

Put the pen to the page. There is something about writing down a clearly defined goal that not only sinks into the paper but your subconscious mind, as well. Describe in detail the what, when, how and why of your intentions. Then, take it from me, put in a safe place where you can keep yourself in line all year, ready for next year’s annual review.

Do New Year’s resolutions set us up for failure?

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Dr. Liz Hale

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