Opinion: Maintaining your New Year's Resolutions - Health Week

By Dan Knighton

Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

As the third week into the New Year approaches, you are probably constructing certitude about whether or not you will maintain your recently executed resolution phase with confidence. Either you are currently exhausted by your newly established customs and tempted to call it quits, or you are still hitting the snooze button while really just preparing to forgive your heart for lying to yourself since mid-November.

If your strong willpower has already molded you into a faithful born-again workout machine, then you’re a freak and I have nothing to offer you but congratulations. If you are like me, and the rest of us, I would like us all to hold hands and summon our power animals while I share with you how to make the best of your 2013 ambitions.

Chill, Man

First of all, it’s not too late. It’s still early January and most people are still trying to convince themselves that the post-holiday routine is real life and not a drill. You’re off to a slow start because you have other things to take care of. Your number one priority isn’t your New Years resolution, your priority is the same as it has been every day: showing up to work, food on the table, state car inspection, etc.

The resolution is a character assignment defined by this year being the year that you start doing this thing or thinking this way regularly. It’s a 12-month program; you don’t need to kick your ass every day and feel sorry for yourself for not being a rocket ship. You’re in a brand new era of time and you need to assess your surroundings and new environment before you begin the expedition. Right now is just orientation.

Getting Started

Regardless of whether you’ve already worked on your resolution a little bit, seek out an opening in your coming schedule for the next week or so where you can practice this resolution without sacrificing anything else. This appointment will be introductory progress to your long-term goal. If you would like to jog every morning, but struggle waking up earlier, just find 90 minutes after work to jog for now.

If you’re trying to wash your hands after using the bathroom, select three or four consecutive bathroom breaks where you will definitely wash your hands. If your goal is something vague, like not making excuses, select a window of time instead where between this hour and this hour you won’t make excuses. The idea is that if you can actually just do this thing once by looking forward to it as a scheduled activity, you’ll realize it’s not so scary afterward. The trick is to find common ground for you and your resolution to meet and start working from there.

Check Yo’self and Stay Motivated

New Years was not just a time to get mad buck, it was a checkpoint. On this momentous day, you remembered your accomplishments and stupid mistakes in the past year, followed by fantasizing about your dreams and dreading your stupid mistakes to be made in the next year. With each passing day since then, you have become a wiser, more powerful individual.

Now think of all the things you have learned in the days since the ball dropped. You can be proud of those and appreciate the small achievements that will inevitably come. Hopefully you can already see yourself as an improved character since that checkpoint.

After you have completed your scheduled resolution activity, immediately think ahead for another time you can put it in your schedule. Try this method several times until you are comfortable with this as part of the new you, then start plugging into your life with more sacrifices, step by step.

Think of it as a budding relationship with a new lover. There’s no need to rush things, just apply advancements in your commitment as you see fit. Your biggest objective should be to forget about it being a resolution and transforming it into a natural habit. You can’t force yourself into a habit too quickly; it will just become an annoyance. This is the best part of working with yourself: you know your own pace.

The Resolved One

Just remember, at the end of the day, you won’t be happy. Ideally by the end of the year you will have achieved your goals, but you will only briefly acknowledge them before you start complaining about something else and brainstorming more resolutions into the next year. Along with these resolutions you have now, you will overcome many other challenges by will, force, and accident.

Odds are you will be a better person with stronger willpower, and your current new years resolutions will be mere bonus points and perks to slightly improve the quality and efficiency of your life enjoyment. Don’t fret if you don’t deliver 100 percent, if you have a goal and can work on it at least a little bit, then that’s a good sign that you are a motivated person.

Now excuse me while I go test my own advice.