2014’s tips for better success with resolutions

Five, four, three, two, one . . . HAPPY NEW YEAR! Auld Lang Syne blares through the air while partygoers kiss and hug their way around the room. This is the moment where everyone is a friend and bygones become bygones. It is the first day of a new year and a clean slate; anything is possible.

The excited chatter of resolutions and lofty goals are exchanged and compared as each one seemingly outdoes the previous. Some people vow to lose 10 pounds or start jogging five kilometres a day, while others swear this is their last cigarette or chocolate bar. It is the one day of the year where it is universally understood that 90 per cent of these goals will never happen and it’s totally okay. After all, it’s the thought that counts, right?

It’s no secret that society seems to enjoy rituals that give the idea that the future is going to be different. Weddings are pinnacle for the beginning of two people’s lives merging into one and becoming a “new“ life, where “I“ is replaced by “we.“ Funerals mark the start of a new journey to “a better place“ by the deceased, and then there’s always the birthday bonanzas; life begins at 40, or 60 is the new 50. There seems to be an abundance of need for these moments in order for many of us to create needed change; so it’s no wonder that most of us are guilty of making a New Year’s resolution or five.

A key to being successful at your resolution is to keep it realistic and within your control. Don’t pick a change that’s completely reliant on the actions or support of another person. Following this guideline will take away the chance of instant failure through no fault of your own, since we, of course, cannot control what other people choose to do.

This doesn’t mean that you can’t have a support person; it just means the goal shouldn’t be dependent on another person. Your resolution for change should be exactly that—yours. Resolving to make a change is a personal endeavour, and lasting change usually only happens when someone does the work and makes the change for themselves.

Another suggestion would be to keep it small and work your way up. Making a lofty goal can seem like a good idea at the time and may even feel like you’re trying to challenge yourself, but in reality, it can actually have the reverse effect.

The problem is that when the excitement of the idea dies down a bit, which will inevitably happen, it may become overwhelming to the point of failure. This doesn’t mean that you should be picking a resolution that’s a complete no-brainer like “tomorrow morning I will wake up.“ Woo, instant success! It just means that instead of resolving to lose 50 pounds in 2014, start with five and go from there. There is no shame in starting small. If it’s the type of goal that you can do in stages, then set up a little reward system for yourself to keep motivation consistently moving forward.

With any change worth making, there are usually hiccups or setbacks along the way at some point. Unfortunately, many of us have been guilty, at one time or another, of just scrapping the entire goal when this happens. Lasting change is not an all-or-nothing process, and it is important to be kind to yourself along the way. Whether your focus went MIA for a day, or you lost the battle of vegetarianism to the local steakhouse one night, it doesn’t matter.

The important thing is not to get too frustrated and call it quits. Anything worth changing or having is bound to have its little moments of negativity, but don’t live there. Accept the setback and move forward. You don’t need the Times Square apple to drop again to press the reset button; just go to bed. Tomorrow is always a new day.

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