Many of you reading this will more than likely find the story sounding familiar. As you prepare to turn the calendar on another year, you take notice of your life and lifestyle, and with the best of intentions, you decide upon a New Year’s resolution. Whether it’s to lose weight, by eating healthier and exercising more, or getting more organized and decluttering in your life, you are excited and determined to construct a new way forward as you celebrate the start of a new year.
While that enthusiasm is to be commended, here’s an eye-opening statistic; by the second week of February, 80 percent of resolutions fail. That number is high, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try to better your life.
As we draw to the end of another year, one that will undoubtedly go down as one of the most challenging years of our lives, there are things you can do to not only make a New Year’s resolution but keep it.
Choose a very specific goal and make it realistic
Vague goals, such as losing weight or getting in shape, are harder to achieve versus concrete plans, like losing 10 pounds or running/walking in a marathon. Having detailed, achievable goals will motivate you as you see the results.
Focus on one goal at a time and start with small steps
Again, if you can meet one small goal, that will be a huge morale booster and can prompt you to either expand that goal or pick a new one. If your ultimate objective is to lose a total of 20 pounds next year, don’t look at the big picture, but accomplish small steps that guide you to the ultimate goal.
Create a plan and allow for flexibility
If your goal is to get into good enough shape to run a marathon, or bike so many miles a week, create a specific exercise plan that will achieve that ultimate goal. If getting to the gym is not working, find another means of exercising, like enlisting a friend and start walking together or biking a short distance. Not only will you still be exercising but having support can keep you on track.
Reward yourself when you hit a milestone
As you move along throughout the year and you accomplish one of your goals, make sure you pat yourself on the back and then reward yourself. It could be something as simple as buying a new pair of tennis shoes or workout clothes.
If your goal is to declutter your life and you’ve finally finished a thorough cleaning of a room, purchase a nice plant or some flowers to put in that room as a reminder of what you have accomplished.
Best advice: take it one week at a time
Regardless of your resolution, there is one last piece of advice, and it may be the best one yet. It’s called Healthy Monday Reset, and the idea is that every Monday, you examine the week before, and if you’ve fallen short of your goal, make a plan to refocus and get back on track.
As stated earlier, 80 percent of those who proclaim a resolution will not go beyond six weeks because they fall short one week and give up. You have to remember that it is just one week, there are many more weeks ahead, and let’s face it, change is not easy nor quick.
So, moving forward, make a resolution, make it realistic, make a plan to accomplish small steps and the overall goal, and make up your mind to stick to it, and you will see the benefits.
Dr. Cherie Bragg is a Primary Care provider with West Jefferson Medical Center. She's a native New Orleanian who has served the Algiers area for over 20 years. Her special interests in preventative medicine for adults and children, diabetes care, hypertension and end of life care.
"I chose to practice primary care because I love caring for patients throughout their entire lives. I also love when multiple generations of the same family are under my care."