Resolutions The Right Way

Tia Petrzilka, Staff Writer

Only 8 percent of people who make resolutions stick to them.
Photo courtesy of Tia Petrzilka
Only 8 percent of people who make resolutions stick to them.

Every year, millions of people come together to celebrate the year’s end: a year full of ups, downs, and memories that they will hold onto forever.  Then the ball falls down, the streamers lay flat and it sinks in: it’s a new year, a chance for a “new me,” as many people assuringly tell themselves.

We all have something in life that we want to change.  Whether it’s losing weight, striving for a promotion, or volunteering more.

On the brink of New Year’s Day, we all claim that we are going to do all these great things; we are going to change our ways, to make something out of ourselves.

So why do we wait for the new year to determine our goals?

“I think even when you start seeing the advertisements in general it reminds people [that] ‘Oh, I gotta do something,” stated health teacher, Ms. Anne Marie Hays.

On the surface, waiting until the new year may just seem to be due to laziness, but honestly, we wait because change and goals can seem impossible.  At times we all feel hopeless.

By putting these aspirations off until the new year, we seem to get an extra and promising boost to achieve our goals simply because it’s a new year.

A new year can seem refreshing and clean; it’s a time for forgiveness of others and yourself, a time for cleansing the spirit and lifting the soul.

Despite the power of a new year, we then decide to put our goals off even longer.

“People tend to put off their New Year’s resolutions because they may feel as if it’s something that they have all year to do, instead of getting a jump start on it right in the beginning, which tends to lead people to forget what their goal even was,” expressed sophomore Jess Webb.

Even if we start working towards our resolutions (yes, some people abandon them completely without even trying for a minute), statistics show that we do not last too long.

We discover that some of our resolutions were determined after a long night, we realize that they were said aimlessly just to feel accomplished, to impress those around us, to reassure ourselves.  We let all the negativity in and give up after the first setback.

We start to lose sight of our ambitions, each day the weight of accomplishing them lifts off our shoulders.

It starts with “I’ll start tomorrow,” then next week, next month, until you feel the cold December creeping through your skin, and think “it’s already too late, the year is gone.”

The question is: are we making promises to ourselves that we know we can’t keep? And if we do have intentions of keeping them, are we just not approaching our goals the right way?

Yes, there are some goals that are unrealistic and ridiculous: you cannot lose 20 pounds in a week, you are not going to become a rock star overnight, and you probably won’t get back together with your high school sweetheart…maybe that’s a good thing.

“I think some people don’t keep their New Year’s resolutions because they set the goal liking how it sounds but then underestimating how hard it will be and how much they will have to work at a particular goal. Ultimately, people give up because they don’t realize the effort their goals take and are unwilling to challenge themselves,” stated senior Ryan Wonderlic.

In all honestly though, there are cases where we fully intend to accomplish our goals.

Let’s take a look at some general tips to rocking your resolution based upon articles from Shape, The Huffington Post, and Psychology Today.

1. Be honest with yourself.

Choose a goal that you truly believe you can achieve and want to achieve.

Even though it seems simple enough and you’re probably thinking, “I have total control over my life” (or maybe not), you are constantly being influenced by the world and people around you.  Advertisements, your friends, and your family often influence you to make decisions and change certain aspects of your life.

If you are pressured into changing something about your life from one of these sources, you are less likely to make the change because it is not your own idea.  You have to want to do something; only you can ultimately change the outcome of your life.

“When you’re in the habit of focusing on something, to make it better through the entire year, then it’s something you do.  If you write it down as your goal, as something to improve some area of your life, you’ll stick to it because it’s your idea, you’re trying to improve yourself as a person.  But when you have advertisements that influence you, like joining a gym…it’s not your idea,” explained Ms. Hays.

2. Make a specific plan and don’t be afraid to adjust it.

We tend to make general and vague resolutions.  For example, your resolution may be something as simple as “I want to get in shape.”  This is the exact type of statement that while has good intentions, is not specific enough.

When looking to reach your goals, it is necessary to plan out exactly what you are going to do, step-by-step.

Ms. Hays recommends using the infamous mnemonic acronym S.M.A.R.T (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Time-related) to set achievable goals and objectives

3.Take the small steps before the big ones

Achieving your goals is not a race to the finish line.  You are not competing with anyone but yourself.  So don’t rush into whatever you may be striving for or trying to change.

“When you have a habit, you get into this mode where you just do it.  When you try to change your day or week and put all of these new things in at once, it’s overwhelming.  You should always just try to work on one goal at a time, make it small.  If  it’s your eating, depending on what you are eating now, it may just be cutting out pop or just drinking more water.  Make it small and then start [to] eat more vegetables,” said Ms. Hays.

4. Take your goal day-by-day.

Do not dwell on the past or painstakingly worry about the future.  Use each day to your advantage.  Think of what you can do on each day to get closer to meeting your goal.

5. Don’t be too hard on yourself.

Sometimes you are really doing everything you can, and then suddenly life gets in the way.

“That’s the thing with New Year’s resolutions, sometimes people are in a place in their lives where things are very difficult. So maybe your New Year’s resolution should be [to] continue whatever it is that you’re doing.  If you’re doing something good and you’re struggling, maybe it (your resolution) should just be [to] continue going to school, [to] continue doing [your] homework, instead of ‘I have to get As’ when you’re almost failing,” added Ms. Hays.

6. Eliminate bad influences and find support.

This is one of the most difficult aspects in general of achieving what it is that you want in life.

The relationships that we have with others are an important part of our lives and at times, we don’t realize how negative and destructive some of them may be and how they affect our own lives.

At some point in our lives, there comes a time where we want to change and move on.

Unfortunately, this can come at the expense of those around you and it may be in your best interest to find new people to surround yourself with.

In general, you need to surround yourself with supportive and reliable people who will check up on you and help you attain your goals, and there is really no room for negative people to bring you down.

Now I’m not saying that your potato chip-eating partner is necessarily a “negative” influence and someone you should remove from your life in order to lose weight, but you need to be aware of their habits and decide how to work with them so they don’t interfere with your goal.

It can be especially helpful to also have the support of someone going through a similar experience or working towards the same goal.

When it comes to heavier topics, especially dependency, it is difficult to let go of relationships, but important to understand that the change is for you.  No matter how hard you try, it’ll be a fight and you need to be around people who have the strength to help you along the way and lead you into the direction you’re looking to go.

If you are looking to lose weight, for instance, have a gym buddy or friend to make the

experience more fun and to encourage you along the way.

7. Be positive.

They don’t say “if you can believe it, you can achieve it” for nothing.  The mind is a powerful and intricate machine.  Our outlook on our everyday lives is key to succeeding.

Don’t be discouraged if you have a slip-up one day.  Laugh it off.  We cannot expect everything to realistically go perfectly and so we need to be able to brush off our setbacks and get right back on those horses (or treadmills).

Remember that any improvement is improvement and you should acknowledge your progress throughout the journey, not just at the end of it.

8. Find time to relax.

With school, jobs, relationships, loss, the list goes on, life is very stressful and hard at times.  Adding another thing into the mix makes it all the more difficult.

Remember to make time for yourself, whether it’s playing piano, exercising, or reading a book.

9. Know the benefits.

You should be trying to change or continue something that will benefit you or others.

These tips are merely just tips.  Chanting them won’t make anything happen or magically change.

Each day is an opportunity; each day is a time for forgiveness, a time for improvement.

Take the small steps before the big, and make goals you can achieve, not fake goals, not impossible ones.

Even if you feel that you don’t have a goal, make one.  It can be as small as you want.

You can take up things like making dinner for your family or you can try to have a more optimistic outlook on life, or maybe even join a weekly yoga class.

“There are so many little things you can do and even from volunteering.  [You may] realize ‘oh, I don’t do that at all anymore.’  It might just be a small step like join Interact, they do a lot of things like that,” provided Ms. Hays.  “You could just do something little, like even [just] around your house.”

We all can be better at something.  Start today, it’s never too late or too early.  You are your own guide, society is not.  It’s your life, it’s your destiny.

“Setting goals for yourself is very beneficial…it gives you something to work for, like motivation, and without motivation, no one would get anywhere in life,” stated Webb.

So try to stick with your resolutions (no matter what day they are created on) and develop new ones throughout the year.