New Year’s resolutions difficult yet possible

Staff Writer

Staff Writer
The new year often signifies a year of new beginnings. This is the time of year where many pledge to be better than the year before and create new goals for themselves to prove just that. Often times however, New Year’s resolutions fall to the wayside come February and everyone is back to their regular schedules, sometimes feeling a little down on themselves for “falling off the bandwagon,” so soon into the new year.
According to an article by U.S. News, by the second week of February, 80 percent of Americans admit to have given up on their New Year’s resolutions that included: weight loss, saving more money and self care like gaining more sleep, to name a few.
A survey of 1,000 Americans by Cision PRweb found that the top New Year’s resolutions for 2018 were to save money — 53 percent reported that as one of their goals — and lose weight or get in shape — 45 percent — as the two main resolutions.
Other top resolutions included having more sex, traveling more, reading more, learning a new skill, buying a house, quit smoking and finding love.
The same survey found that older Americans were less optimistic in achieving their goals compared to younger age groups such as Millennials — born between 1981 and 1996 — and Gen Xers — born between 1961 and 1981. Both groups reported 93 percent and 91 percent optimism in achieving their goals respectively compared to Baby Boomers where 84 percent expected to stay the course.
So how can Americans stay on track and achieve the goals they set for themselves? According to Clinical Social Work/Therapist out of Wapakoneta Pamela Mills, there are a few approaches individuals can take.
“The best place to start is with something that is really bothering them,” Mills said. “Something that they really feel strongly about.
“I would suggest they write down on paper the things that they feel the could be successful with and then they can expand on those things.”
Starting small is the best way to achieve any goals she added. She recommends working with baby steps of small attainable goals so individuals can start to see the progress they are making along the way as well as continuing to focus on their bigger goal.
“What I find is that people are way to hard on themselves,” she said. “They don’t realize the success they’ve already had and so they start out thinking that they’re already a failure so they make goals that are not realistic.
“You can’t make a million dollars in one year if you have a job that pays $15 an hour. That’s just not realistic.”
Simplicity is key. Making goals that are attainable helps boost someone’s mentality as they can see what they have accomplished so far and move onto the next goal.
Creating goals that are too broad or too complex makes them impossible to reach, she mentioned, then people forget their goal altogether because they feel down about not making the progress they want.
She also recommended avoiding the label of New Year’s resolution because the stigma around the phrase can lead to failure also.
Mills prefers the term “life-changing goals” because those are the kind of changes people will focus on for the rest of their lives as they continue to make themselves better. It’s not something that is easily forgotten about. And setting little goals along the way will help people achieve those life changes.
“Weight loss is going to come with a life goal,” she said. “If you change the way you eat, the weight loss will follow so I would say things like, ‘today I’m not going to eat — if you have a habit of eating cupcakes all day — I’m not going to eat any cupcakes today.’ Change that little basic step and that will lead to the actual bigger goal.”
Evaluating regularly is another tip Mills mentioned for those who want to make lasting changes, as often that works best for the individual. The point of the evaluation is too look and see if they are still on track or if they need to redirect. Here is where having a support system could help.
The survey conducted by Cision PRweb found that 72 percent of those surveyed said they would be more likely to follow through on their resolution if they had someone do it with them.
“Even as a therapist myself, and a life coach, I have other people who coach me, they help keep me on track because it’s easy to get lost in the fog,” she said. “You can set all these goals and then you lose track. It’s good to have someone you can talk to who can help keep you focused but can also point out the wonderful things you’ve accomplished in the process.
“Sometimes goals take a turn and it becomes a different goal all together. And they can help identify those new goals.”
As 80 percent admit to having given up on their goal in February, Mills mentioned that having a bad day or week doesn’t mean people have to give up on their goals right then and there. There is no binding contract that says goals can only be made in January.
Falling off is normal, Mills said, but people can get right back up and start again. She mentioned that a big part of the process of attaining goals is to acknowledge how far individuals have come in the process while also recognizing everything working against them.
“Weight loss is a huge thing and some of the medications people take nowadays actually cause you to gain weight,” she said. “And so even, let’s say your goal is to lose 10 pounds by the end of the month, and you lose 5, give yourself credit for that. Pat yourself on the back for that 5 pounds because with all the things going against us — and if you watch TV after 9 o’clock it’s food advertisement after food advertisement. Who could lose weight?
“It’s very difficult so pat yourself on the back for that 5 pounds and just realize, ‘OK now I’m going to lose the next 5 pounds the next month. Then I will have met that goal.’”