Resolutions — Make Em, Keep Em

New Year's Resolutions

New Year's Resolutions

HERE WE are… the last day of 2010, and if you’re like me (at least me this year-end), you’re still pondering which of the half-baked New Year’s Eve festivities you will attend.

More importantly, perhaps — as this day has approached, you’ve been wondering about those darn illusive (in terms of achieving) New Year’s Resolutions.

Good news… I’m armed with some experts, and we’re here to help!

In this post, I present four experts who discuss the “ins and outs” of the resolution game.  If you’re gonna make them, read on to get a grasp on how to make them happen.

But for those of you who are tripping your way forward as you crane your neck back, always ruminating about whatever isn’t ever seeming to get resolved… well, there’s something for you, too.  Read the last summary and resolve not to ruminate no more!

Resolutions You Can Keep

The top two most common New Year’s resolutions are to lose weight and exercise more often, says Psychology Today.  More often than not, neither happens.  Why?  Maybe because such goals need to be concrete and clear, not lofty and vague.  Rather than setting yourself up for potential disappointment, start 2011 off on the right foot by making a healthy New Year’s resolution that you can actually keep.

In a Her Campus article, Hannah Orenstein writes about the “7 Healthy Changes You Can Actually Make in 2011”.  Each “healthy change” she offers comes with suggested steps to make it happen.  For instance,  change #1 is “Try a  New Class”,  and the simple suggestion to make it happen is to commit the dates to a calendar.  I might add that it will increase the probability of success if you recruit a buddy to go along.

Hannah’s other six suggestions are to eat five servings of fruits and veggies, exercise even when not in a gym, recruit a buddy for workouts, get at least seven hours of sleep, drink water instead of sugar water, and get comfortable in your own clothes.

Read the specifics on how to get this done here.

More on Making Resolutions You Can Keep

Sliding right along, let’s next turn to Dr. David Katz’s suggestions about how to make your New Year’s Resolution stick.

The good doctor says that most sources suggest that fewer than half of New Year’s Resolutions survive past February, and at least one study suggests that less than 20 percent have a lifespan of two years or more.  Seem familiar?

You can read his post to discover why Dr. Katz thinks that resolutions fail for most of us most of the time, but suffice to say when applying the tools of behavior modification science to weight loss, he suggests three things that need to converge to enable lasting change to occur:

  1. You need to be psychologically/emotionally ready for the change;
  2. You need to know (be educated) about what to do; and
  3. You need to perspire, as in, really work at it.

Not everybody is ready to make those New Year’s resolutions all at the same time come midnight on January 1.  Timing, as the saying goes, is everything.

Resolve to Get More Empowered

Turning from the science-infused practical to the sublime, let’s next consider some suggestions inspired by the Kabbalah as interpreted by Tai Chi and Kabbalah teacher, Levi Ben-Shmuel.

Here we get into qualitative stuff as opposed to that which is easily measured, like pounds lost.  Levi’s talking expressing more loving-kindness, compassion and commitment making.

Personally, I think he’s on the right track, because paying this type of attention to our inner world is a clear track to getting to what we all want in the end anyway – to be happy.  Read more about “10 Questions to Empower You in 2011” here.

Looking Back Rather Than Forward

With three summaries of “Resolutions” for this New Year, I’d like to finish with some thoughts aimed at those who – rather than looking ahead – spend this New Year’s looking back… ruminating.  My expert for this exploration is Robert Leahy, PhD, Director of the American Institute for Cognitive Therapy.

First, what is meant here by “ruminating”?  It is to “repeat negative thoughts over and over, dwelling on something either in the past or the present — but do nothing to change anything. Ruminating is like spinning your wheels in the mud.”

The proposition is that ruminating leads to no productive, beneficial change.  In effect, it’s energy misspent, and it comes with a price tag.

People who spend a lot of time ruminating can become disconnected from others and become depressed.  (Think of Sisyphus who toils forever without achieving anything.)  If by ruminating you do not produce answers, do something different.

As Dr. Leahy suggests, that something different can include focusing on goals that you can and are willing to accomplish, and learning to accept the world so you can live in it.

To read his other suggestions to put ruminating behind you, read “Is Dwelling on the Negative Hurting You? The Cognitive Costs of Rumination?”

Well now you have plenty of good ideas to think about… resolutions, if you will… so let’s get cracking. Oh, if you have any good tips about how to make and keep your New Year’s Resolutions, please put them in the Comments section below.

Have a great New Year’s!

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Joe Garma
 

I help people live with more vitality and strength. I'm a big believer in sustainability, and am a bit nutty about optimizing my diet, supplements, hormones and exercise. To get exclusive Updates, tips and be on your way to a stronger, more youthful body, join my weekly Newsletter. You can also find me on LinkedIn, Twitter and Instagram.

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