2013. A New Year begins. And, for many, the start of the New Year marks the start of resolutions. Resolutions for self improvement. Resolutions to lose weight and begin exercising are among the most common. How successful are these resolutions? Drive past any fitness center in mid-January. The parking lot will be full of cars. Check out the same lot at the end of February. You know
what you will find. The New Year's resolutions made with such firm commitment are very much like holiday decorations. By February they have either been discarded or put away until next year.
What can you do to achieve your resolutions goals? If you are serious about your resolutions, here are some guidelines that will help achievement.
First, have a clear, specific goal. "Losing weight" is too vague. So, too, is "begin exercising". Better goals would be "lose 5 lbs. by March first" or "exercise for twenty minutes on Monday, Wednesday and Friday mornings before I leave for work". Why are these better? They are specific, realistic, and, measurable. People often fail because their goals are unrealistic (e.g. lose twenty pounds). It is better psychologically to have easier to reach goals that will make success more likely. Being successful will give you the psychological encouragement to keep going. It will make it easier to set new - realistic! - goals.
A second way of increasing your commitment to your goal is to put it in writing. Psychologically, we tend to take written commitments more seriously than mere verbal commitments. So put that contract with yourself in writing. Just ask Judge Judy. If the contract is not in writing, it's worthless. Keep your written commitment with you. If you are tempted to renege, take it out read it again.
Keep in mind that January is named for the Roman deity Janus. Janus ruled the first month of the year. He also presided over doorways. The symbolism was clear to the Romans. You move from one room to another through a doorway just as you move from one year to another through January. Keep that in mind as you move closer to actualizing your goals. Oh, one more thing. Janus had two faces. One faced forward to the future and one faced the past. Keep looking to the future, like Janus, but don't be "two-faced" in your commitment to self-improvement.
Dr. Thomas J. Nardi. Director of the Programs in Counseling at LIU Hudson's Rockland Graduate Campus in Orangeburg, NY