By Reena Talreja-Pelaez, MD
It’s time of year for new beginnings and New Year’s Resolutions! Many patients share their New Year’s goals and aspirations with us. Often health-related, these resolutions range from exercising more to eating healthier to taking vitamins. And as we all know, many of these resolutions fall by the wayside within weeks or even days. But some patients I see are successful. This got me thinking…what makes them succeed? Here are five tips.
- The resolutions involve a new choice rather than restriction of an old choice. (“I will walk 2 miles each evening before bed” rather than “I will watch less TV.”)
- The resolution is quantifiable. (I will drink 64 ounces of water each day” rather than “I will hydrate better”)
- The actions require few if any additional resources. (Keep in mind the ultimate useless resolution, “I will join a gym.”)
- The resolution represents personal change desired by the individual, not a change deemed necessary by loved ones. (“I will stop smoking” in a person who is not really ready to quit.)
- Look outside the box! Resolutions can also represent change in thought- mindfulness, new approaches to patterns of thought response. (“I will respond to negative talk at work in a new way.”)
Even with the best-crafted resolution, we often fail. So why do we set ourselves up for failure year in and year out? We are human! Change is hard.
But, the act of creating a resolution is a mark of self reflection and a formal embrace of the possibility of change and personal improvement. In a sense, it is the ultimate form of optimism. And what if I fail in creating the “new me”?….. I just remember….there’s always next year.