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The Blue & Gray Press | August 25, 2019

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New Years resolutions replaced with short term goals, key to success

New Years resolutions replaced with short term goals, key to success


It is that time of year again, when people begin to forget and fail to reach their New Year’s resolutions. According to the University of Scranton, 45 percent of Americans usually make New Year’s resolutions, but only 8 percent of those people actually achieve their resolution. The real kicker is that one in three people abandon their resolution by the end of January.

Whether you are concerned about weight, money, self-image or relationships, change is hard. Stating the resolution is a start, but the entire journey is a rollercoaster of triumphs and failures.

The American Psychological Association says the inability to keep resolutions may increase anxiety, frustrations and “can make the later winter months feel hopeless.” Rather than dealing with feelings of inadequacy, the APA suggests to start small, change one behavior at a time, and ask for support.

Instead of continuing with the tradition of New Year’s resolutions, which is ultimately prone to failure, maybe it is time to switch over to a more manageable set of short-term goals.

The chief benefit for this type of goal setting is the first word of the name – short. As an alternative to a year-long resolution, people can make periodic resolutions that act as stepping-stones.

For instance, if the unsuccessful New Year’s resolution was to lose weight, then the first short-term goal may be to attend a cycling class once per week. After mastering that, add another day during the week to go to a cycling class. Eventually, turn to food choices and maybe switch up a Goldfish snack for some carrots. This method allows an individual to focus on the process, as opposed to the general outcome he or she desires.

Making small, realistic changes that allow for some degree of positive reinforcement once the goal is achieved permits the task to appear much more obtainable.

However, according to The Washington Post, New York University professor and author of “Rethinking Positive Thinking” Gabriele Oettingen said, “Too much optimism about a goal gets in the way of the energy needed to reach it.” Self-encouragement is of the utmost importance because the biggest hurdle may be your mind. Nevertheless, excessive confidence causes you to neglect acknowledging the obstacles. Therefore, when the obstacles arise, an individual may feel less energized to overcome the obstacle. There is a balance between wishful thinking and hard work needed to reach each stepping-stone.

Another issue with making a New Year’s resolution lies within the lack of commitment to the goal. Everyone can state something he or she wishes to change, and most people can layout short-term goals; however, not everyone is committed to finding the motivation to execute the plan.

By breaking down a New Year’s resolution into short-term goals, it becomes easier to find the motivation.

Additionally, friends are great motivators. Using the buddy system provides a certain amount of accountability and encouragement, which adds to the motivation factor needed to achieve a resolution.

Few events occur without a couple of setbacks, and resolutions are not exempt from this. With weight loss, a cookie here or a donut there is definitely not ideal, but there will always be a temptation. Rather than believing this is the end of the journey and there is no coming back, try again and keep pushing to break through the barrier that prevents success.