OK, so maybe last year’s resolution to run 3 miles every other day and suddenly become financially stable didn’t exactly work out, but this year you’ll totally be on it, right?
Here’s the thing about New Year’s resolutions: They’re great and all, but they’re also usually pretty unattainable, and a lot of us fail to keep up with them. Mid-February hits and suddenly you’ve skipped a day of running and your New Year’s resolution has left you panting in the dust. By December, you’ve fallen back into old habits, but you’re ready to try again.
There’s nothing wrong with having goals to keep in mind as the New Year swings into action. In fact, New Year’s resolutions date back thousands of years to the ancient Babylonians and Romans.
New Year’s resolutions are appealing to us because they give us a chance to evaluate ourselves and our lives. They’re a way to celebrate our accomplishments and remember our goals as the holidays die down and life starts returning to normal.
We also like New Year’s resolutions because they give us a chance to procrastinate.
Procrastination can be defined as the time between the intention to do something and the act of actually doing it. Dr. Tim Pychyl, a psychology professor at Carleton University, has described New Year’s resolutions to be a form of cultural procrastination. It’s easy to recognize something that needs to be changed when you know you can wait until the New Year. This is because we aren’t always ready to change our habits. As a result, resolutions are made up of a lot of built up energy that usually weakens when the time comes to carry them out.
Another problem with resolutions is that they are often idealistic. It’s fun to imagine perfect end results, but in reality, life can get in the way of attaining them.
New Year’s resolutions aren’t impossible: It’s your goals that are. To make a resolution work, you have to really feel connected to it. It shouldn’t be something that you casually daydream about when you’re bored, but something that makes you think, “OK, enough is enough. This has to change.”
Goals stay alive when they’re something you know you can do and when they’re not too drastically different from your current lifestyle. Instead of making a resolution to spend two hours exercising every day and cutting out junk food completely, you could start by finding a gym buddy to work out with on certain days and adding healthy snacks to your diet. That way, you’re still exercising and eating well, but it’s OK if you don’t all the time.
Make goals for something that needs to change, something that you want to change and something that you know you can change. Track your progress and celebrate it. Don’t beat yourself up when you get tired and slack a little. Most importantly, remember that you can make a change at any time, not just the new year.
Kristen Fiore is a Contributing Columnist for the Central Florida Future.