New Year, New You
- by LB Kovac
With the new year just out of the gate, it is time to turn to that honored tradition of old, the New Year’s resolution. The ancient Romans were the first to make New Year’s resolutions; each January, they honored the two-faced god of beginnings and endings, Janus, by reflecting on their past and preparing for their future.
Three thousand years later, more than 45% of Americans keep this tradition by penning their own New Year’s resolutions, though ol’ Janus is no longer the center of festivities.
And statistically speaking, these New Year’s resolvers have a rather slim chance of keeping that resolution: only 8% keep up their changes twelve months out.
Mind, Body, Spirit
If those odds still aren’t good enough for you, there are a couple of other things you can do to help yourself on the way to success. Stay trim, learn a language, quit smoking or write a novel right into 2018 with these tips!
Willpower is, after all, a form of mental energy. Outsourcing this energy to an app, program, or some other tracking form, can significantly improve your odds of success.
Trying to slim down? My Fitness Pal counts calories and tracks workouts for you with ease. Putting down the smokes? Quitter’s Circle lets you set up personalized goals and reminders. Want to get more organized or increase your focus? Try out Slash and Things.
With that out of the way, you can use that willpower for other things.
If weight loss is your goal, Andrea Bonior, Ph. D, a behavioral psychologist based in Washington D.C. and author of the Baggage Check column for the Washington Post Express, advises saying something along the lines of, “This week, I’ll try to go to the gym three times, take the stairs at work at least twice, and bring a healthy lunch every day.” If you put a number on the thing you’re attempting to do, it will be that much more obvious when you have met the goal. Speaking of…
“If you use willpower only to deny yourself pleasures, it becomes a grim, thankless form of defense,” says John Tierney in this New York Times article. “But when you use it to gain something, you can wring pleasure out of the dreariest tasks.”
Dr. Frank Farley, former director of the American Psychological Association, encourages readers of The Wall Street Journal to reward themselves for small successes towards their goal: “Check [your momentum] often, maybe monthly, and reward yourself for baby steps along the way.”
Reward yourself for having made it this far! Go out to a nice dinner with friends, buy that dress or shoes you’ve been eyeing, or go on a trip to a new and exciting place.
The Apollo 13 mission also inspired this line: “Houston, we’ve had a problem.” Just like the moon-bound astronauts, you will run into problems. If you want to achieve overall success at your goal, you must give yourself some room to have a couple of stumbles along the way.
Although setting out to change yourself is a big personal undertaking, it isn’t landing a rocket ship on the moon. Unless your chosen field is rocket or neuroscience, expensive equipment won’t be damaged, and you will survive.
Dr. Farley says, “Don’t catastrophize an occasional bad behavior. When you fall off your schedule, it isn’t the end of the world. Like Frank Sinatra said, dust yourself off and start all over again.”
Failure is something that happens to everyone, and the best thing you can do is keep on going.