Among the most common targets are weight, tobacco use, a more satisfying life balance between work and home, healthier eating, exercise, quality time with family, less time on the couch and stress reduction.
Some even resolve not to make resolutions.
For those who do, it is believed one of the key reasons most resolutions fail within a few days is that resolution “makers” don’t plot a resolution “plan” or strategy. Left to chance and good intent, resolutions often stand the same chance — and perhaps even less — as the proverbial snowball in regions deep to our south.
For this reason, and especially for those serious about sticking to their 2012 resolutions, it is comforting to know others have tried — and succeeded — with their commitments because they put the plan to paper.
One we came upon is a regular jogger who launched her new routine as a University of Florida student because it was “trendy.” On an Internet website titled “Money Crashers,” Casey Slide confessed she never thought she could succeed because of a poor track record with past resolutions. The difference with her decision to take up jogging was she prepared an eight-step plan.
She advanced from turtle-paced jog for short distances to half-marathons. The young woman is now a regular runner who enjoys her outdoor exercise several times a week. These days, she is healthier, happier and thinner, and her energy level far exceeds anything she could have imagined.
For those shaking their heads in discontent because this is an example using heavy exercise, it should be emphasized — as the writer has done — that these eight steps can be used for most resolutions, not just those involving vigorous activity.
Let us paraphrase her plan.
1. Focus on One Resolution: In 2002, she keyed on jogging and no other self-improvement ideas. She didn’t spread her attention span too thin and it allowed for more time for the regular exercise.
2. Plan Ahead, Not on New Year’s Eve: Too many resolutions are declared on a whim. Plan early, prior to year’s end, and develop a strategy. For example, to lose weight identify a diet. To launch an exercise regime, find a workout plan and a place.
3. Commit to 21 Days: Some subscribe to the notion that developing a new habit takes 21 days. For those who believe it, mark your calendar for Jan. 21 and don’t give up or give in to wayward temptations.
4. Baby Steps: Take your resolution in small increments. For instance, if running is a goal, begin with short distances and move up as endurance builds. For tobacco use, cut back gradually and stick to a curtailment plan, but not cold turkey.
5. Create an Awards System: Progress should be rewarded. If dieting successfully, allow yourself the occasional treat. If exercising regularly, take a day off.
6. Penalty Motivation: Conversely, failure to stick to a routine should be penalized. Try the “Swear Jar” idea and plop a dollar in it for every setback or missed day. Do not spend the money. Save it and put it to your future.
7. Don’t Get Burned Out: This can occur when a resolution becomes an obsession. If you start a budget, don’t sweat every little detail or dime. If you diet and exercise, allow yourself the occasional reward. Again, don’t obsess and don’t beat yourself up over a missed day or dollar.
8. Remember Why You Made Your Resolution: Serious resolutions aren’t made for the fun of it. Their intent is to change a perceived flaw. Use reinforcing reminders — sticky notes on mirrors, unflattering pictures on refrigerator doors or notes on the calendar.
For Casey Slide these steps worked.
Although they are not guaranteed, they are steps in the right direction.