After a season of general excess, and with the promise of a blank slate in 2013, almost half of all Americans will make at least one personal goal for the new year. The most popular will have something to do with eating healthier/losing weight, exercising more, and reducing stress and anxiety.
One thing's for sure: many of those resolutions will have been broken and even abandoned long before Valentine's Day. Part of the reason we tend to lose our focus, according to Laura Drury, MSW, LICSW, clinical director of Social Services at Butler Hospital, is that we are unrealistic when we make the resolution in the first place.
"We live in a society that wants things now," Drury notes. Instead of expecting to run five miles every day without fail or never losing our cool with the kids, the best approach is to expect slips in the new behavior and just get back on track without getting discouraged.
In addition to being realistic with our resolutions, Drury explains we should back each one up with a specific plan of action that includes the steps necessary to reach the ultimate goal. She advises that people track their progress and setbacks and try to anticipate difficulties in advance in order to avoid them.
Lastly, Drury suggests that anyone making a resolution try to understand the reason their behavior might have gotten unhealthy in the first place. Drinking to excess, smoking and overeating are all common responses to anxiety and stress. Perhaps working on the stress in your life might be the first step, and then healthier eating and exercise will follow. If you know or suspect there is an underlying illness such as depression causing you trouble, you should seek treatment. In the end, addressing the root of the problem should help prevent setbacks with your resolutions and lead you on a healthier path in 2013.
Making New Year's Resolutions that Stick-Video