Dr. Sohail, I wish I could say that I have been successful over the years with keeping my New Year’s Resolutions but I find it so frustrating when I make resolutions with my friends and family, only to be disappointed in a few weeks when my enthusiasm diminishes. As the New Year approaches, I am thinking that I will not make any resolutions as this seems to not work for me. Is there a way I can approach it so that I have more likelihood of success?
Happy New Year!
NEW YEAR’S RESOLUTIONS
Over the years I have met so many men and women, like you who made New Year’s Resolutions but many of them, for different reasons, also could not keep them for very long.
Last year I asked four people, what their New Year’s Resolutions were. The answers included:
- quitting smoking
- quitting drinking
- losing 40 pounds
- going to gym five times a week
When I checked with them six weeks later they had only maintained their resolutions for a limited time, some for five days, others for five weeks. Just one person was still going to gym but only three times a week.
It has been my observation that most people make spontaneous decisions on New Year’s Eve when they are feeling euphoric and sentimental while celebrating with their family and friends. In my opinion any resolution, whether on New Year’s Eve or a birthday or any other day, is more likely to be successful, if it is well planned and is realistic.
A woman I know was successful because she started slow and received support from her friends. She started going to gym once a week, increased it to two to three times a week, and then maintained that frequency. Rather than starting five times a week and then coming down to three times a week and feeling like a partially failure, she increased from once a week to three times a week and felt successful. She also invited two friends who went with her to gym regularly. The days she felt unmotivated her friends picked her up and they went together. After a year she celebrated with her friends as she had lost thirty pounds.
I met another man who, rather than getting drunk, stopped drinking on New Year’s Eve and joined AA [Alcoholic Anonymous]. He also requested a person he respected to be his sponsor. The sponsor took special interest in his recovery and called him every day to encourage him to go to the AA meetings. With the help of AA and the sponsor, he has been successful in being sober for three years now and feels proud of his accomplishment.
Whether it is the resolution of stopping drinking or smoking, losing weight or going to the gym, it is a lifestyle change that needs realistic planning and social support. People who are successful in lifestyle changes usually develop the attitude of a marathon runner. They are like turtles and follow the motto of ‘slow and steady wins the race’. People who make impulsive decisions and have the attitude of a one hundred meter sprinter are usually successful for short periods of time. They do not realize that maintaining a lifestyle change is as important, if not more important, than making a lifestyle change. Slow changes are usually more lasting. Getting support from one’s friends or therapists and making long term realistic plan is significant in making a lasting change. Sometimes we need to plan for the whole year to make a New Year’s Resolution successful.
We would like to hear other stories of New Year’s Resolutions, the struggles and the successes. It might inspire others to make more realistic New Year’s Resolutions next year.
Dr. K. Sohail